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Biotech Science

Eye Transplant Enables Blind Boy to See 309

Posted by timothy
from the wondrous-times dept.
Chris Gondek points to this story carried by the Sydney Morning Herald, excerpting: "A one-year-old Pakistani boy saw the world for the first time yesterday through an eye donated by an Indian. Mohammed Ahmed gained partial vision after a difficult operation at the Agarwal Eye Institute in the southern city of Madras. Doctors said Ahmed, who was born blind, would get near-normal sight by the time he heads back to Karachi next week."
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Eye Transplant Enables Blind Boy to See

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  • Careful... (Score:5, Informative)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Monday July 05, 2004 @02:42AM (#9611409) Homepage Journal
    The title is very misleading and is born of sloppy reporting. The whole eye was NOT transplanted, rather the cornea was what was transplanted. The cornea had adhered to the boys iris clouding his vision. Technically and surgically, this is nothing of note as corneal replacements have been happening now for years and years. Politically however stuff like this is good for Indian Pakistani relations.

    The title suggests that the whole eye was transplanted which would indeed be very exciting as I myself work in vision rescue focusing on diseases that cause blindness through degeneration of the retina. However, the concept of rescuing vision once we have lost it due to trauma to the retina or degenerative diseases is much more difficult than simply replacing the tissue with a healthy donor tissue. We are working with a number of folks on bionic and biological therapies and replacements for retinal vision loss, but it is a challenging prospect despite what some commercial organizations would have the media believe.

    In addition to the above mentioned corrections, there are other problems with this story. In particular, apparently the child was born blind from birth which would suggest that depending upon how old the child is, there will be problems due to vision being occluded during certain critical periods of vision pathway development. This means that there may be no vision in the eye that was clouded anyway, or that vision may not be fully "normal" and likely will never be.

    (yes, I am a vision scientist)

    • Re:Careful... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ofdm (748594) *
      depending upon how old the child is
      From the herald article (first line), the child is one year old. So what are the chances given that age? (I recall from a friend doing a PhD torturing kittens that early visual development is critical, and one year sounds maybe a little late to start).
      • ...I recall from a friend doing a PhD torturing kittens...

        Gee, I bet neighborhood bullies and `disturbed kids' everywhere would give an arm and a leg to get to the university offering that course.
    • Re:Careful... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by selderrr (523988) on Monday July 05, 2004 @02:53AM (#9611450) Journal
      Nice to hear an expert once on /.

      What do you think are the chances of ever seeing a complete eye transplant ? In 10 years ? 50 ? 100 ? Or maybe never at all ?
      • Re:Careful... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by BWJones (18351) * on Monday July 05, 2004 @03:09AM (#9611507) Homepage Journal
        What do you think are the chances of ever seeing a complete eye transplant ? In 10 years ? 50 ? 100 ? Or maybe never at all ?

        I've thought about this a lot. There is some very promising research in the neuromuscular community that suggests that spinal motor neurons can rewire rather successfully. The problem is that the retina (and the "wires" (axons) that come off of it is a very complicated tissue and rewiring them might be too much to attempt even if you could 1) get the retinal neurons to survive and 2) get them to rewire properly and perform the precise pathfinding necessary. Immunological considerations are another issue, so the approaches I am interested in a other biological and possibly bionic approaches.

        • Re:Careful... (Score:5, Informative)

          by OkiWanKenobi (688609) on Monday July 05, 2004 @03:22AM (#9611547)
          we are talking about rewiring about 1000000 nerves in a very tight bundle, each of which has a pair and is part of a patway binding your eyes with your brain, regardeless of your approach, i would be surprised if a complete and totally successful eye transplantation happens within the next 100 years, it is the 2. most complicated operation possible, comming behind brain tranplantation...
          • by Famatra (669740) on Monday July 05, 2004 @04:40AM (#9611780) Journal
            Stem cells seem to know what to wire though. Putting stem cells near kidney cells turns them into kidney cells. The cells themselves must have known how to wire it in the first place (since we can see).

            I think much more money should be spent in this kind of research. Immortality is just around the corner if successful brain transplants can take place. As well people inprisoned in quadriplegic bodies can be helped by this research along with many others with similiar neuron/motor neuron problems.
            • by mz2 (770412) on Monday July 05, 2004 @06:26AM (#9612043)

              Making stem cells to specialize into kidney cells is not quite as hard as producing functional neurons and making their growth cones migrate exactly where wanted -- The "wires" aren't the biggest problem, it's the signaling that takes place to connect the wires into something that has a wanted physiological meaning.

              And there's very active research going into understanding nerve cell targeting. The problem is just that the successful process of nerve cell growth is a result of a fine balance of a huge number of extracellular signals -- different guidance cues, repelling signals, survival factors, cell-to-cell adherence molecules, etc, etc. The basis is known, but it also appears to be one huge area of intracellular signaling research to cover.

              • by CaseyB (1105) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:24AM (#9612482)
                I'm curious about a related issue: is it necessary to wire neurons a->a, b->b, c->c between the "brain" end of the bundle and the "eye end"? If you could establish any 1:1 connection set, could the brain learn to interpret the signal as vision, or does it have to be mapped in a certain way?

                I'm just wondering how much precision is really required, and how much the brain can compensate for after the fact.

                Does it even make sense to think of the optic nerve as a bundle of parallel wires?


                • I think it may depend on how "young" you get the transplant done and if the person has had sight in the past. My understanding is that the brain essentially figures out the connections initially anyway, so there is a large margin for error in the wiring as long as the brain hasn't already wired it one way.

                  There are some decent medical eye books [health-issue-books.com] available if you're really interested in the details.
                • After a certain age it is very likely that the type of connection you refer to would be necessary.

                  This is from experiments on cats who were forced to wear some kind of optical contraption in front of their eyes from birth that reversed the field of their vision (i.e: everything was upside down). The cats learned to use this type of input and developed normal vision. When the contraption was removed, all cats are very confused for a while, but if cats are young enough at the time of the removal their brain
            • Although the thought of being immortal is pretty attractive, problems will skyrocket when this really is possible. Already Western countries are struggling with their aging populations while people want to stop working earlier and earlier. People should realize that at some point life has to end and that it comes with a certain cost (worklife). I think this will be one of the major issues in this century.

              In a way its healthy for our population when individuals don't live too long.
          • Re:Careful... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SengirV (203400)
            That's the great thing about the human brain - It can hande the fact that the "green" nerve is now "yellow", red is blue, etc... It just takes time to work itself out.

            I doubt we'll see perfect transplants for a LONG time, but something that would "work" is not that far off.
        • Re:Careful... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Polkyb (732262) on Monday July 05, 2004 @03:25AM (#9611555)

          Would re-wiring the nerves properly be THAT important in allowing the eye to send information to the Brain?

          The brain has astounded scientists in it's ability to reconfigure itself so as to perform the same tasks, but using a different region

          For example, I remember a story about a boy who had a hemisperectomy. Doctors expected him to wake up paralysed down one side of his body, but, when he did wake up, he could do everything he could before. Which, IMO, amazing.

          • Well, experiments have been done trying to regrow brain cells in animals using injected NGF (nerve growth factor) to stimulate new growth. The good news was that the cells seemed to almost miraculously rejoin with others. The bad news was that very often the resulting connections would actually make things worse not better.

            I don't know much about optic nerves, but based on those brain experiments, the procedure even if "succesful" may not lead to anything remotely like normal vision. In fact those wayward
          • Re:Careful... (Score:2, Interesting)

            by seafortn (543689)
            In short, yes.
            There's a famous experiment where a frog eye was removed and reattached inverted 180 degrees, and the frog never compensated (it would shoot it's tongue out the wrong direction when trying to eat flies, and had to be fed by hand for the rest of it's life) (vision scientist types - do you know the name of the guy who did the experiment?)

            Another piece of evidence is the development of ocular dominance columns, which were hinted at in an earlier post - essentially, if you occlude one eye of a
            • Re:Careful... (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Otto (17870)
              There's a famous experiment where a frog eye was removed and reattached inverted 180 degrees, and the frog never compensated (it would shoot it's tongue out the wrong direction when trying to eat flies, and had to be fed by hand for the rest of it's life) (vision scientist types - do you know the name of the guy who did the experiment?)

              I'll be damned if I remember anything more than these few details about it, but I recall reading about an experiment where a college kid was given glasses that reversed his
          • Re:Careful... (Score:3, Informative)

            by IdahoEv (195056)
            As another neuroscientist, I'm going to agree with Polkyb, here. I don't think precise rewiring of each of the optical nerve axons is necessary. We know, for example, that even normal humans whose vision is reversed vertically through prisms will learn to interpret the new visual information appropriately within a few days.

            We also know (or think we know) that much of the functionality within visual cortex is built through some self-organizational algorithm during early development. (Witness horrible exp
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Would that make part of the boy an infidel?
    • Re:Careful... (Score:5, Informative)

      by DrScott (4365) on Monday July 05, 2004 @03:35AM (#9611593)
      I agree. The title is completely misleading. There are one million retinal ganglion cell axons in the optic nerve that would be sectioned and need reconnection in an eye transplant, not to mention the reconnection of the short and long ciliary nerves to innervate the ciliary muscles, etc. Even with recent advances in nerve growth factor and other neuropeptides, this is still beyond current science and more in the realm of science fiction.

      (another vision scientist)
      • Just return from Kevin Warwick's [wired.com] (the cyborg guy from University of Reading) public lecture a few hours ago...

        In his 1998 experiment, a 100-element probe was attached to the medial nerve (??) of his left hand (sorry, biologist/ MDs, I don't know the correct terms. I am an engineer who research on the mechantronic side of robot...), which has about ten thousand cell axons. The connection is kind of random. A learning process was involved so that Kevin can sensor and control using the new connections...
    • Although as I understand it, they try to give people transplants from people of a similar age. When this boy is fifty he'll have 99 year old corneas and will probably need another transplant.
    • by The Famous Brett Wat (12688) on Monday July 05, 2004 @04:58AM (#9611833) Homepage Journal
      In Cringely's latest "pulpit" column [pbs.org], he talks about a video compression technology which uses one aspect of human vision physiology -- namely losses in the path from retina to brain via optic nerve -- to compress video. Apparently the bandwidth of the optic nerve isn't all that high, and not all the data available at the retina is transmitted to the brain. The brain makes up for this by filling in the gaps. I'm rather interested in this from a philosophical standpoint, having touched upon philosophy of colour recently. Is it true that much of what we perceive visually is imagery generated by the brain rather than directly produced in us by external stimuli?
      • It's just a good sales pitch by a startup. Every video compression technology takes advantage of the human visual system and drops out things people can't see. That can take all sorts of forms, including identifying important image parts, modifying colors and textures, etc.

        If eyetracking were practical, encoders would even only transmit what you are looking at, but do you want to wear a few pounds of gear on your head to watch television? Once eye trackers get cheap and small enough, however, even that
      • by DrYak (748999) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:07AM (#9612416) Homepage
        The input really comes from external stimulis, but yes in a way, what we see is the brain's own interpretation of those stimulis.

        The information is never used as-is by the brain, but at each stage it processed, and information is extracted and spareted.

        The vision, for exemple, doesn't work at all like in a computer with a pixel grid.

        The input from the cones and the rods (the "pixels") is not sended as-is to the brain. Instead, in other layers of the retina, value from rods close to each other is compared (for : exemple you have "off-/ and on-centers", a signal is genrated only if surrounding cones are off and central cone are on, meaning there's something in the middle of that region).

        The information transmited in the optical nerve isn't "pixel at coordinate (150,175) is color rgb(126,129,32)" but "there a change between these points and their neighbours, so there must be something there".

        Further stages in the brain works the same way :
        point are compared together to extract edges (comparing point close together), or motion directions (comparing the timing between two near region).
        Then motion, shape, colour, etc... is processed independently in deffirent arrea of the brain.

        This analysis is also done at different frequencices : some region compare difference between point very close to eachother, where other regions compare global differences between the two half of your field-of-view.

        So : when you see a red pen falling, you're brain isn't processing the images at a whole (not like a sequences of pictures of the pen falling).
        But one region of your brain say it found a red object, another region of your brain tells there's an object that is long and thin, a third region see ther's motion going downward, etc...

        Also, it isn't possible to have a single nerve fiber for each "pixel" while keeping a high resolution. So there's some kind of information drop : only the center of the view has a high density of receptors (cones & rods), the rest of the field of view has much less receptors.
        Only the center of the view can see fine details.
        The rest cannot give details, but can still give an alrt if there's something, and you'll automatically point your eyes int that directions to bring the interesting objet in you "high resolution" zone.

        The whole scene is the kept reconstucted in some kinf of mental visual scratch pad.

        So when you look at a plant you can see it well with all details, leaves, etc...
        Then when you look at your computer screen, you can't see that plant that well, but even in your peripheral vision you can still a bullry green spot, and you remembre that you saw a plant there. Even if you can't see details anymore, your brain can still notice that the green spot has suddenly turned brown-orange. You turn your eyes and see that you can is trying to eat your plants....

        This also explains why we don't "see" our blind spot. (Due to some poor cabling, the optical nerve is running thru the retina, and there's no receptor in that place, to leave room for the nerve).
        It's like a grid with some pixels missing.
        The vision works by comparing points. It's just that in the blind spot, the brain is comparing receptors that are VERY far appart. So if something small is located just in the blind spot, we won't see it, but we won't even realise that we are missing it, because when the brain compare the points above, below and on the sides of this spot, it doesn't notice any change, so the brain thinks the background is continuous. (That's what some call 'filling the gaps').

    • > The title is very misleading and is born of sloppy > reporting. The whole eye was NOT transplanted

      where's the little combobox to mod down the insensitive clod that submitted the article....
    • Your work sounds quite interesting. Any thoughts on what possibilities for enhancements open up when synthetic eyes become a possibilities? Night vision, zoom, infra-red, etc? Is there any biological reason why that data (instead of normal light wavelengths) could not be processed and sent to the brain?

      Finkployd
      • Sure. What most folks do not realize is that human vision is not the pinnacle of evolution in visual systems. Certain amphibians and avians hav much more sophisticated visual systems than we do. For instance, whereas we see in typically three-space (red, green and blue), a turtle for example may see a much richer world than we could ever hope to perceive in seven (or more) space.

    • I was thinking much the same thing "wow, and eye transplant... oh hell, it's a cornea transplant... big deal."

  • One year old? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grondin (241140) on Monday July 05, 2004 @02:43AM (#9611412)
    How can they tell that it worked?? Did they ask him - or is it some sort of objective test??

    -FP??
    • by MikeDX (560598) on Monday July 05, 2004 @02:44AM (#9611419) Journal
      They went to punch him in the face and when he flinched, they screamed "SUCCESS!"
    • Re:One year old? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well.. For one thing, he was not able to see earlier and now he is playing with toys and handling them well. I saw the report on TV. (I am from India)
    • Well duh (Score:5, Informative)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday July 05, 2004 @03:50AM (#9611648) Journal
      It says the boy picked a ball of from the table in front of him. Doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist to tell is he is grabbing for it blindly or directly as a sighted person would.

      There are also simpler tests. wave a hand a quickly in front and note reaction, move a light and watch if the eye follows it.

      How much he sees and how well is of course another question. But if you had the choice between being completly blind and being able to see a ball on a table what would you choose?

    • Re:One year old? (Score:5, Informative)

      by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Monday July 05, 2004 @04:17AM (#9611715)
      Yes, there is an objective test. It uses a device that is a cylinder that can roll. It has pictures on it. You roll it and the patient's eyes will track the motion if he can see it. Interestingly enough, this is a good way to see if someone is faking vision loss. Because if you see the motion you can't help but to track the motion.
    • He reached for the ball on the table in front of him. He'd have never known the ball was there if he couldn't see it.
  • by MrP- (45616) *
    The newstodaynet.com link seems to be slashdotted..

    Here's the pic of the kid:

    http://elitemrp.net/sd/4rgn1.jpg [elitemrp.net]
    "VISION ACCOMPLISHED: Dr Amar
    Agarwal, MD, Agarwal Eye Clinic, interacting
    with the parents of one-year-old Karachi- based
    Mohammad Ahmed, who underwent eye
    surgery in Chennai a couple of days back."

    Heres the text:

    "Karachi kid's vision restored in Chennai

    Thanks to Dr Amar Agarwal, managing director, Agarwal Eye Clinic. Dr Amar performed the surgery in Chennai a couple of days ago.
  • by Qrlx (258924) on Monday July 05, 2004 @02:47AM (#9611432) Homepage Journal

    "An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind." -- Gandhi

    Oh, wait.
  • by nmoog (701216) on Monday July 05, 2004 @02:55AM (#9611458) Homepage Journal
    In the last 8 years of being a programmer my eye sight has gone from perfect to shithouse. I actually read this slashdot article title and it gave me hope - once my eyeballs fall out, I can just get new ones!

    Though from the first few comments here looks like I shouldnt hold my breath. Better keep waiting for the video camera borg-eyes.
  • by laserbeak (794029) on Monday July 05, 2004 @03:01AM (#9611475)
    So there is an Eye in team afterall. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 05, 2004 @03:03AM (#9611483)
    After the eye transplant, the pakistani boy began to see the world... AS AN INDIAN WOULD. When he looked at the Kashmir territory, he saw Indian territory. The horror! With time the Indian cornea began to take over his entire body, and he began speaking in 18 different languages.

    THIS FILM APPROVED BY THE PAKISTANI FILM COMMISSION
  • by phr2 (545169) on Monday July 05, 2004 @03:05AM (#9611489)
    If the kid has been blind since birth, has his visual cortex developed properly? I seem to remember hearing about horrible experiments involving sewing shut the eyes of newborn kittens. When the kitten is a month or two old, the eyelids get unsewn and the eyes work completely normally, but the kitten never really learns to see.

    I feel feel squicked just thinking about this, but I wonder if that kid will ever have really useable vision.

    • I think perhaps the vision defect he had would be much like holding a thin sheet of paper in front of the eye. Dimness, but not lack of light, would not entirely prevent development of the visual system. Resolution would be very poor, but I'd guess he could track a finger moving an inch from his eye. Once the mechanical problem is fixed, vision stands a good chance for substantial improvement. Even if vision is never good enough to allow safe car driving, it can still be very usable.

      Humans develop more slo

  • Good news links (Score:5, Informative)

    by fleener (140714) on Monday July 05, 2004 @03:05AM (#9611490)
    Google News results [google.com] for those of us rejecting cookies and unable to bypass the Syndney Morning Herald's bogus "Register later and continue to your Article" link.
  • by ari_j (90255) on Monday July 05, 2004 @03:08AM (#9611503)
    I wonder if he'd get it if we sent him letters reading:

    Dear Geordi,

    Congratulations on your eyesight.

    More power to the engines,
    Captain Your Name Here
  • Man wtf Slashdot (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mboverload (657893)
    Here I thought a boys WHOLE eye was replaced! That would have been amazing and something for the whole world to rejoice for. Then I remember that we can not currently do eye transpants, and then I confirmed it by reading the article and other posts. You assholes should burn in hell for giving me that huge lump of amazment then slaping it down.
    • Re:Man wtf Slashdot (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lxt (724570)
      "Here I thought a boys WHOLE eye was replaced! That would have been amazing and something for the whole world to rejoice for" ...but people aren't amazed by the fact we can already give permanently deaf people hearing again. Nobody seems to have noticed we've created bionic ears...in fact, the whole area of Cochlear implants seems to have gone rather unnoticed (being the insertion of electrodes into the cochlear to enable someone born deaf to hear again).
  • by gwoodrow (753388) on Monday July 05, 2004 @04:05AM (#9611685)
    Sure, this kind of science has a long way to go. But doesn't everything? This is frickin' amazing! For me personally, I always had this weird fear growing up of anything making me blind. When I was a kid I actually wanted to get glasses specifically for the purpose of having a shield over my eyes! If there is eventually full transplant success, the possibilities would be incredible. I'm not sure if there's another physical feeling that would be as powerful and emotional as someone who has lived their life blind getting the opportunity to see at last.
  • State of Affairs ! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phreakv6 (760152) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .6vkaerhp.> on Monday July 05, 2004 @04:06AM (#9611690) Homepage
    Its really heartening to see the social ties the two countries still have inspite of the tussle at the top.I hope the recent talks [indiatimes.com] between the two countries gets more bonds between the two countries.
  • by musicmaster (237156) on Monday July 05, 2004 @04:31AM (#9611752) Homepage
    I remember some pop psychology book (author forgotten) with a story about some blind person getting vision when he was an adult. The problem was that he couldn't cope with it and got psychological problems. When his vision started deteriorating again he felt relieved.

    Will this boy have the same problems?
    • I can't be sure, but I believe that newly rebuilt vision sends upside down images to the brain, and it takes a while for a person to get used to it. I read this in a psychology book. Why upside down? Remember eyes work like lenses.

      A newborn can cope with it very quickly, as they don't even have a sense of dimensions. However, it is more difficult for an adult to cope with it.

      I've heard of a similar story, about a man who couldn't live in the world he could see. I think Hollywood made this film [imdb.com] inspi

    • Could it be Oliver Sacks' An antropologist on Mars [amazon.com]? His main problem was that all he saw was coloured blobbs moving about. He could not understand objects, and correlate them with his previous experiences. For example, when they removed his blindfold, he was just sitting there. Then the doctor asked 'well?' and only then did he realise that the blobb he saw was the doctor. He had pretty bad sight after the operation, and it was not made entierly clear if it was due to his eyes or his brain not making any se
    • It's a true story. It was made into a movie and played by Val Kilmer. The problem was the brain never developed things like depth perception and never distinguished between colors and edges. It drove him crazy until his vision once again diminshed due to a genetic defect.
  • At first I thought that this was an impressive feat, I dont think anyone has successfully successfully transplanted a whole eyeball before and had the patient seeing. Having read the article, it seems that the boy has simply had a cornea transplant; Not exactly a groundbreaking medical acheivement these days (well, at least not in the west).
    I suppose the politcal statement is fairly important in terms of pakistan / india relations.

    nick ...

  • Knowing the relations between those two countries you can expect exactly one eye to be missing from a Pakistani now.

    Next they'll work on teeth.
  • I guess the most difficult part of the whole procedure was to convince the Pakistani family to accept the donation from an Indian. =)
  • by Xanlexian (122112) on Monday July 05, 2004 @07:57AM (#9612372) Homepage
    My father had a cornea transplant in his left eye back in 1987.

    They first had to do a plaster mold of his eye (the first one broke). And then he had to sit and wait for an acceptable donor.

    When the cornea came in, they numbed his eye completely (locally) and all the surrounding area (he was fully awake when the procedure was done). And stitched in the new cornea.

    Late one night, I was sitting in the hospital room with my dad -- this is late the very same day (mind you, I was only 14 when this was done) -- the nurse came in to change dad's eyepatch, reapply some goo, and just do a general check. Soon as the nurse walked out of the room, my dad grabbed me and said, "Holy shit, son. I JUST saw DEPTH! I can't f*ckin' believe it. I saw in three dimensions!!!!" -- I've never saw my dad so excited over something. I told him something to the affect of "welcome to the world of depth" or something stupid like that. He told me to wear one of his eyepatches for a day, then take it off and look at how different the world was.

    Later on some months, I couldn't handle driving with him. "The TREES are coming AT ME!!!"

    I guess we stereoptic folks take this stuff for granted sometimes.

    --Xan
    • by Anonymous Coward
      > "Holy shit, son. I JUST saw DEPTH! I can't f*ckin' believe it. I saw in three dimensions!!!!"

      I trust you did the right thing... and took him to a strip club immediately thereafter? :)

  • by ONOIML8 (23262) on Monday July 05, 2004 @08:32AM (#9612517) Homepage
    The average /. reader can't see.

    If you had RTFA you would know that it wasn't about the technical details of some new surgery. Far from it.

    For those who wont RTFA, it was mostly about doctors in India helping children from Pakistan. And for thost who won't read anything but /. you might be interested to know that India and Pakistan aren't the most friendly of neighbors. So things like this are good for improving the way people in those two countries think about each other.

    • by rsidd (6328) on Monday July 05, 2004 @10:18AM (#9613154)
      For those who wont RTFA, it was mostly about doctors in India helping children from Pakistan. And for thost who won't read anything but /. you might be interested to know that India and Pakistan aren't the most friendly of neighbors.

      Actually there's never been a people-to-people problem between India and Pakistan: visitors from one country generally feel overwhelmed by the hospitality shown in the other. Indian films are hugely popular in Pakistan, Pakistani singers are hugely popular in India.

      Last year, having spent a year (my first) in the US, I visited India for a few weeks. I had just left a country where the press was heaping the vilest and most unspeakably vulgar abuse on a historical ally, France, for daring to suggest that the Iraq war may not be necessary. The NYT had just run a story on how French high-school students, visiting the US on long-established exchange programmes, were not able to find American families willing to accommodate them (the same story also remarked, by the way, how Americans continued to be welcome in France -- something I can believe, I had lived two years in France before that.)

      And I was now in my home country, India, where the papers were full of goodwill stories on the heart operation on a girl from the "enemy country", Pakistan, and the Pakistani parents were feeling overwhelmed by the good wishes they had received. (A few months ago, when the Indian cricket team toured Pakistan for the first time since the 1980s, Indian fans visiting Pakistan experienced similar hospitality.) This wasn't a surprise but it was hugely pleasant to see after a year watching Americans puke all over their oldest ally.

      I had already decided that the US was not the country for me, but last year was when it crystallised: the US may be the most developed nation in the world but it's also the most immature in many ways: no other country uses the words "enemy" and "evil" so routinely and unthinkingly. I'm leaving for home in a few weeks.

  • Human eye transplant sounds good. However I'd like to see a more useful eye transplant. I'd like to see a Borg style transplant; this will give you the ability to zoom, night vision, sun proctection, x-rays in one package.
  • http://www.angelsacolyte.com/epguides2/18deadend.h tml

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