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Recanalization enables Tsunami mourners to parent again

Four women who lost their children in the tsunami last year are eagerly expecting their babies after a medical surgery that enabled them to conceive again.//

Despite having undergone sterilisation earlier, these women in this coastal district of Tamil Nadu in southern India will now be able to have children once again after the successful performance of the surgery called recanalization.

"We cannot get back our children. But at least we can have children now," said Bhagyalakxmi of the fishermen village of Akkaraipettai, six km from here.

The 26-year-old women is expecting her baby in August next year after losing all the three children of hers - Vinod, 5, Jenni, 4 and Nikash, 2 - to the sea last year. Another woman from her village, Kumari, is also expecting her newborn in June next year after the successful surgery.

The surgery has brought new hopes also for Selvi, 25, and Geetha, 26, from the nearby Keechangkuppam village.

They are among the 51 women in the district to have undergone through recanalization surgery in the post-tsunami period.

"Recanalization involves joining the fallopian tube that is severed during sterilization surgery to prevent child birth.

Already 51 women have undergone this surgery in the district till now and four of them are pregnant," said K. Tilagam, gynaecologist and in-charge of the family welfare project in the Nagapattinam District Hospital.

Though there are no facilities to carry out the surgery in the hospital, it offers pre and post surgical care to women.

"Recanalization surgery does not involve life threatening situations. But it needs skilled hands and better equipment. We are equipped only for pre and post surgical care here," Tilagam told IANS.

While cases of recanalization were very rare prior to tsunami, crave for children and government encouragement have given a sudden rise to it after the disaster on Dec 26 , 2004.

"Cases of recanalization were very rare earlier. Usually women would come for it in case of remarriage. But crave for children along with government support are drawing many tsunami parents to this surgery," said Tilagam.

The state government has offered free recanalization surgery, which can cost up to Rs.25,000 ($553). Most of the women to have undergone the surgery in the district were operated upon at the Thanjavur Government Medical College Hospital. Few of them had the surgery at private nursing homes.

"The government is encouraging tsunami parents to come forward for the surgery," said Nagapattinam district collector J. Radhakrishnan.

While people in the fishermen villages in the district earlier had apprehensions about the success of the surgery, the number of people showing interest has increased after the four women have conceived.

"Already 32 more women have registered for the surgery in the past few weeks. They will soon undergo the surgery," said S. Ranjini, a village health nurse in Akkaraipettai.

--Edited IANS

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