by: Jared Leone, Cox Media Group National Content Desk Updated:
LONDON - Amit Patel lost his eyesight when cornea surgery did not correct his blurry vision.
Patel, a former doctor, was paired with Kika, a certified guide dog, in 2015.
The dog provides Patel, 37, with a lifeline, helping him travel through London’s subway and city sidewalk system, once even saving his life when a driver ran a red light, according to the Daily Mail.
Patel wanted to document and shed light on his and Kika's daily trevails including commuters who hit the dog with umbrellas, the rude comments and the station workers who ignore him when he asks for help.
He strapped a GoPro camera to Kika, and Patel’s wife helped him edit the footage.
“The worst part is the tutting and negative comments behind me. People are so rude and arrogant and assume they can do whatever they want,” Patel told the Daily Mail. “One lady even said I should apologize to the people behind her for holding them up. I asked her if I should apologize for being blind, and she said, ‘Yes.’”
Patel was diagnosed with keratoconus in 2012, according to the Evening Standard. His eyesight improved for a few months after multiple transplants transplant surgeries, but he soon went blind.
Patel sent the footage to Network Rail as evidence for a formal complaint about an incident that he couldn’t see, according to the BBC.
"I asked for help and no one came," Patel said. "The video shows lots of staff standing around me, and this one guy looking over many times. Eventually, when the staff member actually came to me, the first thing he said was, 'Sorry I didn't see you.' And that really bugged me. He wouldn't say that to someone who wasn't visually impaired.”
Rail staff were given further training after the incident.
"While in this instance the event and associated disruption was not organized by or held at the station itself, we do recognize that the station can be a complicated place to navigate," a Network Rail spokesman told the BBC. "That is why we have hired many extra staff to look after passengers."
That does not change how some people react to a blind man and his guide dog, Patel said.
“Sometimes the only way I get a seat is to scratch Kika behind the ears so she shakes a little; no one likes a wet dog. It makes it so much harder than it needs to be,” Patel told the Daily Mail. “There are taxi drivers who will see you and won't stop; sometimes train staff will say they didn't see me when they clearly did. People even walk right up to me then swerve at the last minute, and come up to Kika and touch her and distract her while she is walking.”
Patel now volunteers to help new guide dog users with Action for Blind People and Guide Dogs for the Blind.
"My life at the moment is so much more vivid. It's more colorful than it was when I had sight,” Patel told the BBC. "It still fills me with dread leaving the house, because I have no control and am completely reliant on Kika, but we're out all of the time -- any excuse."
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