We recently met nine year old Richard on Foresight’s seventh medical visit to The Cagayan Valley in the Northern Philippines. His eyesight was so bad that he was struggling to count two fingers held up in front of him. He was born with congenital bilateral cataracts which were worsening and he was slowly going blind.
We met Richard on the third day of our five-day trip, when we were focussing on the list of paediatric patients who needed our help. Richard had driven two hours on the back of his mother’s motorcycle to attend our clinic at the Santiago Adventist Hospital. He is the youngest of three children and his parents crop rice seasonally. His teacher noticed that his sight was failing and recommended he visit our clinic, as Richard’s parents had no means to pay for eye surgery elsewhere. The cataracts, worse in the left eye had caused a significant grey central opacity, blocking his vision.
We recommended he have cataract extraction and intraocular lens implantation in both eyes using the modern technique of Phacoemulsification. It is minimally invasive surgery, requiring only a small incision and using suction to remove the cataract and then replace the lens with a foldable acrylic plastic one. Richard was understandably nervous and frightened about the procedure. His mum, Jodilene, agreed for us to operate on his left eye initially.
The surgery went smoothly and brave little Richard recovered well. Although cataract surgery isn’t a painful experience, the recovery can be uncomfortable and experience can be frightening for children. We tried to make him feel at ease and relaxed. Richard loves to sing so we encouraged him to sing his favourite songs to pass the time.
The surgery was a huge success and his eyesight had improved immediately.
Richard is one of the 84 people whose lives we touched during this trip. We worked for five days, for twelve hours each day to help the poorest people in the Philippines regain their sight and their lives. The patients range in age from seven to seventy. Each of them had no other chance to access eye surgery than through our charitable work.
Our medical visits cost $50,000 to run. We travelled small team of two surgeons, an anaesthetist, a registrar and two nurses to help these resilient and kind people who would otherwise live their lives in darkness, unable to help themselves or their families.
These medical visits are the heart and soul of what Foresight does and stands for. We utilise every dollar raised, by volunteering our time and negotiating donations of equipment worth thousands of dollars to ensure that our work can be carried out to the best standard. We always strive to give back to the local medical and nursing staff through equipment, training and assistance, working in partnership with them and setting up sustainable practices for the future.
Richard and his mum were so delighted by the result he’d had with his left eye that he came back for surgery on his right eye two days later. He can now read and write well and is so excited to be able to enjoy school again and keep up with his classmates. He also told us that he is happy that he can help his mum more now he can see!
Please help us give the gift of sight to other children like Richard.