Empathy: A vital attribute for doctors
Her grin couldn’t get any wider. The 4-year-old pressed the toffee to her mouth, wrapper and all, and did not seem inclined to remove it from there. As I quickly took my cue and started examining her while she was thus distracted, her mother gently tried to explain to her that the wrapper had to be removed. But she remained oblivious. Her mother slowly extracted it from her mouth and started undoing the wrapper. However, the child had started wailing, sweeping her arms in front of her, not understanding where her toffee had gone. She was blind: congenital bilateral anophthalmia. And then, the mother, with tears in her eyes, looked up at me and asked if her child would ever be able to see. All at once, tears welled up in my eyes and I felt ill equipped to deal with both child and mother, as it seemed that even my genuine concern and consolation would sound hollow and inadequate. What words could possibly reassure this distraught parent? This child’s plight is probably shared by the estimated 1.4 million other blind children in the world.
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