In a world-first operation, ophthalmologists in Fuzhou, capital of east China's Fujian Province, have removed a cataract from a panda.
Twenty-two-year-old Basi, nicknamed Cutie, is very old and considered a "god of longevity" among her peers as the life span for pandas is usually only about 12.5 years.
With the greatest of care, the doctors used ultrasonic devices to try to remove the cataract from the 186-kilogram (410-pound) giant panda. Several doses of narcotic prevented her from moving and dulled any pain.
The operation lasted about one and a half hours.
A superstar in the animal world, Basi is a nimble weight lifter, basketball player and cyclist. She charmed large audiences at the opening ceremony of the 11th Asian Games hosted by the Chinese capital of Beijing and at the annual spring festival parties hosted by China Central Television (or CCTV) which were televised worldwide in the early 1990s; and she toured the United States for six months in the late 1980s to promote wildlife conservation and was a great hit in its western coastal areas.
Basi's advanced age has caused her to suffer from high blood pressure and some neural diseases. Her eyesight is extremely poor with right eye going almost blind due to the cataract that started to develop in her right eye five years ago.
Basi is now under intensive, meticulous care around the clock. Doctors say it will be 15 days before they know if Basi can regain her sight.
(People's Daily April 18, 2002)