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Indian doctors have removed as many as 97 pellets from a 27-year-old man’s chest in a rare surgery, nearly four years after he was shot from point-blank range.

The surgery on Aarif Hussain of Moradabad town in India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh, took place at the country’s premier All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, China’s news agency, Xinhua reported today.

It was a single bullet that got disintegrated into 97 pellets on impact and spread in and around the chest though it did not affect the heart or any other vital organ, after Hussain was shot while he was sleeping in his home in his native place over a property dispute.

Doctors said that they decided to remove the pellets, the size of papaya seeds, after four years as all of them have now become a source of potential infection.

“If he wasn’t operated on soon, the infection would have spread to other organs. It’s fatal,” Dr. Biplab Mishra of AIIMS trauma centre, who headed a team of doctors that conducted the rare surgery, told a leading Indian newspaper.

The surgical team got the confidence only after Hussain expressed his willingness to take a chance though his life was at stake.

“Theoretically, it looked like an impossible task. I even told the patient that there was a likelihood of death on the table. But he was willing to take a chance, which gave me confidence to go ahead,” Dr. Mishra said.

“We slowly, and very carefully, took each one out. The bullet case was also lying inside and was removed successfully,” he added.

Hussain thanked the doctors for giving him a new lease of life from almost being on the brink of death.

“I am better now thanks to the AIIMS doctor. He has given me a new life and I want to make the most of it by working hard,” he said.

The rare surgery has earned the doctors praise from fellow doctors as well.

“It was a near impossible task, but Dr. Mishra proved that nothing is impossible. They saved the patient from a slow and painful death,” said Dr. Pratip Chaudhury, a Delhi-based chest specialist.

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