“I was blind, but now I see.” These words from the powerful Christian hymn Amazing Grace are the very same words used by Susannah, a Liberian woman in Sineo County who underwent life-changing eye surgery.
Susannah’s blindness was the result of cataracts – the world’s leading cause of blindness. In Western countries it’s a condition that’s easily fixed. But in Liberia, a country with a shortage of medical doctors and almost no specialists, cataracts often mean blindness.
For every success story like Susannah, there are many more like Esther – people in need who continue to battle their afflictions. Like Susannah, Esther suffered from bad cataracts in Liberia.
Although she underwent surgery to fix her condition, the procedure comes with a fair amount of risk. After her surgery, complications arose for Esther and her eyesight ended up worse than before. Her goal was improved eyesight – now she is legally blind.
“I just want to see,” Esther said. “I thought the operation would work. It did for other people. Now I am in more pain and can see less than I did before.”
Unfortunately, even for patients who are able to have surgery in this region, follow-up care is rare.
Complications arise and often go untreated. Susannah and Esther live far from the hospital, and with neither a vehicle nor public transport, they have no way of accessing eye care. Cataract surgery is usually performed by an ophthalmic surgeon, but in a country still recovering from civil wars and Ebola, post-op care is not an option.
Things are getting better. Recently, a Liberian nurse was sent to nearby Ghana to train, perfect the surgery and return to her country to perform it. Medical Teams International routinely visits remote communities in Liberia and heard about Esther’s condition. They knew the newly trained eye nurse could help.
Medical Teams International staff determined that Esther’s retinas had detached after the first surgery – she needed a follow-up procedure and vital eye drops to correct the problem. Recognizing the challenge of transporting Esther to the eye clinic where she had no family or support, Medical Teams International fieldworkers sat with Esther and explained that they would set up a day for the eye nurse to come to her community. Esther’s face lit up with a wide smile as she heard the news that help was on its way.
As Esther awaits the corrective surgery, she is confident that once it’s over she too will be able to say, “I was blind, but now I see.”
Your support changes lives. Donate Now.