1. ITV Report

Manchester surgeon explains why he was compelled to help acid attack victims

Dr Asim Shahmalak examines one of his acid attack patients in Pakistan Photo:

When Dr Asim Shahmalak first told me about his plans to travel back to Pakistan to help victims of acid attacks, he said it was a journey he felt compelled to undertake.

The hair transplant surgeon - whose client list includes celebrities like Callum Best and Dr Christian Jessen - has been pioneering his eyelash transplants from his clinic in Manchester.

But he told me, he was desperate to give something back to his home country of Pakistan and the patients - mainly women - who are scarred and maimed every year by acid attacks.

He'd already gone out to Pakistan late last year to meet his potential patients and see just what he could do for them.

Many had travelled hundreds of miles - some on little more than donkey carts - just for the chance to get a consultation.

For most victims of acid attacks in Pakistan, reconstructive surgery is impossible; It's normally only available to the very rich.

That is why surgeons like Dr Shahmalak who come from abroad at their own expense and at the invitation of charities, are classed as such heroes - some have called them "angels sent from God."

But the reality of Dr Shahmalak's trip to Pakistan has been very humbling.

Many of the patients he's seen, are so scarred that even his expertise cannot help them.

He explains that he's had to turn down more than 50% of the potential patients, because the scarring means the hair grafts simply won't take.

But for those he CAN help, it is surgery that means far far more than just cosmetic reconstruction. Many of these women have been shunned from society, and even from their families; they have lost all confidence, and stay at home, afraid to show their faces in public.

Any possibility of an improvement in the way that they look is welcomed with the biggest smiles you will ever see.

Something as simple as restoring their eyebrows and eyelashes means so much to these women.

And it's a procedure that wouldn't be available to these women even if they were millionaires.

That's because Dr Shahmalak is one of just a handful of surgeons in the world able to perform the transplants - a technique he's pioneered himself at his clinic in Manchester.

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