When Rani gets back to work, she will be extra careful. The 27-year-old woman, soon to be discharged from the Government General Hospital here, recently underwent a rare surgery to remove an inch-long needle that was in her body.

The needle had travelled to the area near her backbone. Thankfully, it did not damage any of the veins nearby. This is a miraculous escape, said S. Visvakumar, professor of Cardio Thoracic Surgery, Madras Medical College, on Friday. He performed the surgery about two weeks ago.

According to J. Mohanasundaram, Dean of the Government General Hospital, the case could have been fatal had the needle punctured the superior vena cava, the vein that carries deoxygenated blood from the upper half of the body to the heart's right atrium. "The patient has been very lucky," he said.

About three years ago, Rani, who was working at an embroidery unit in Parandur near Kancheepuram, accidentally fell down at her work space. Two needles pierced through her chest, and she was rushed to the General Hospital. One needle was removed immediately, and doctors advised that she stay there for another surgery to remove the second.

"But I wanted to go back home and told the doctors that I would come back if I had any pain," Rani said. She went home against her doctors advice and continued doing embroidery from there.

However, after she fell off a scooter recently, she complained of excruciating pain. She came back to the GH and the doctors had a new set of X-rays and a CT scan taken. A small needle was found near the backbone which was removed after a two-hour surgery performed by Dr. Visvakumar. "She is fine now and will be discharged soon," he said.

"I don't have any pain now. I just have to be more careful," Rani smiled at her doctor gratefully.