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 Health  India Project #1035

Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India

by Aravind Eye Foundation
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Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Give the Gift of Sight to the poor in India
Ratheesh and his nurse at Aravind Eye Hospital
Ratheesh and his nurse at Aravind Eye Hospital

Ratheesh was four years old when he was diagnosed with eye cancer. His father is a daily wage laborer who earns very little and definitely not enough to pay for his son’s surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. To make matters worse, while Ratheesh was undergoing treatment, the cyclone Gaja ravaged the northern districts of Tamil Nadu. His village was among the worst hit, and the family lost their house, along with most of their belongings. Aravind provided Ratheesh’s treatment free of cost and also helped the family get back on their feet with relief support.

None of this would be possible without the help of friends like you – you are the Ring of Hope that surrounds our patients and their families. This past year Aravind treated 35 new patients with retinoblastoma and provided 707 follow-up visits for existing patients. Since we started the Ring of Hope program, you have helped to save the sight and lives of 558 patients and to provide 8,687 follow-up visits. Thank you!

I will be travelling to India in March and meeting some of the many patients whom you have helped. I look forward to sharing their stories with you in future reports. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please email me at donnacampbell@aravind.org. I would love to hear from you!

In gratitude,

Donna Campbell, Executive Director

P.S.  Please tell your friends and family about the great work YOU are doing.  Tweet about us @AravindEye or follow us on Facebook @AravindEyeFoundation. 

"Intelligence and Capability are not enough.  There must be the joy of doing something beautiful."

From the journals of Dr. G. Venkataswamy, founder of Aravind Eye Care System

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Al Ameen, 9 months old
Al Ameen, 9 months old

There is probably nothing more endearing than the toothless smile of a happy baby, and Al Ameen is no exception!  This beautiful baby boy was referred to the Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, with cancer in both eyes.  Al Ameen has the genetic form of retinoblastoma, and both of his parents are also blind. 

Al Ameen lives with his mother, Haseena, and the two of them are cared for by maternal grandparents.  Because of some issues with the family, his father does not live with them, nor does he support them financially.  The cost of Al Ameen's on-going cancer treatment is also paid by his grandparents.  

Many families start treatment and then become overwhelmed by the expense and the prolonged length of treatment.  They simply stop coming, as a result.  Retinblastoma is very curable, but patients must complete their chemo and radiation sessions and come in for follow-up visits.  Al Ameen's family lives in the neighboring state of Kerala, so they had the additional cost of travelling to visit Aravind in Tamil Nadu. 

Your donations paid for Al Ameen's family to travel to Madurai and to complete his treatment and follow-up.  Unlike his parents, Al Ameen has a very good chance of retaining his vision.  

There are so many children like Al Ameen, whom you help through Global Giving.  And, that's why we are all smiling at the Aravind Eye Foundation today.  Thank you for helping to save the lives and sight of now more than 650 children in India and to fund thousands of patient follow-up visits to keep our patients cancer-free.  

In gratitude, 

Donna Campbell, Executive Director

P.S.  Please tell your friends and family about the great work YOU are doing.  Tweet about us @AravindEye or follow us on Facebook @AravindEyeFoundation.  And, I would love to hear from you, so email me:  donnacampbell@aravind.org -- I will respond!  

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Muthuammal, mother of five and grandmother
Muthuammal, mother of five and grandmother

Blindness ranks as one of our greatest fears – some studies show that it surpasses fear of losing a limb, memory, or hearing.  So much of how we learn, work, and generally interact with our surroundings comes through sight.  It’s no wonder that we are afraid. 

Many of our patients at Aravind face another fear – not being able to pay for treatment when they are diagnosed with eye cancer.  In India, treatment can cost between $1000 and $2000 for diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and rehabilitation, an astronomical amount when the average wage is $2 a day.  Your donations give them hope for recovery and resuming their normal lives. 

Eye cancer affects all ages – so going forward you will see some new faces in my reports to you.  I often write to you about our young patients who are being treated for retinoblastoma, which primarily affects children up to age 5 years. This year we expanded our Ring of Hope program to provide treatment and rehabilitative services for all patients who can’t afford to pay, no matter their age. When a parent or grandparent gets sick, it has a huge impact on the whole family and community.  

An example is Muthammal, who is 69 years old and has five children. Even at this age, she continues to work so that she too can play her part in supporting the family.  Muthammal first visited Aravind in March 2019, seeking a cure for her eye problem. She was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.  She was broken-hearted on hearing that she had cancer.  Muthammal was equally worried about the huge cost involved in treatment. Thanks to Aravind’s Ring of Hope, she has now completed six cycles of chemotherapy and is on regular follow-up. Totally free, because of you. 

Thank you for supporting all our patients and being part of our family!   I would love to hear from you – especially if you have any family members who are struggling vision issues, no matter what their ages. You can email at donnacampbell@aravind.org or contact me through twitter @AravindEye. Or visit our Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/AravindEyeFoundation/

With gratitude, Donna

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Birju family at Aravind Eye Hospital-Madurai
Birju family at Aravind Eye Hospital-Madurai

Aravind celebrated World Retinoblastoma Awareness Week with Survivors’ Day at our hospital in Madurai last week. More than 100 children and their families gathered to celebrate their victory over eye cancer, share their stories and support each other. Both the Times of India and The Hindu covered the event with wonderful, full-length articles. I have just one word – COURAGEOUS!

Our Aravind doctors and nurses give the best treatment possible. But the real cure requires the courage of our patients and their families to go through surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and rehabilitation, usually over a period of several years.

Birju and his daughter Kirthiga are two of our courageous survivors. Birju is a hearty young man from Trivandrum in Kerala. He had retinoblastoma as a child and had both his eyes removed. Completely blind, he has had difficulty finding work. A school employed him as teacher for some time, but later he had to quit. He married, and a year later the couple was blessed with a cute little girl whom they named Kirthiga. The mother noticed a white reflex in the baby’s eyes, and they brought her to Aravind. Kirthiga was just one and a half years old when she was diagnosed with cancer in both eyes. One eye had to be removed and the other one is undergoing chemotherapy. The outlook is good – and your donations are paying for all her treatment.

The courage doesn’t end there – Birju is now receiving rehabilitation services at Aravind, also for free. He hopes to go back to work and support his family.

Nearly 40% of retinoblastoma patients in India have the genetic form of eye cancer – like Birju and his daughter Kirthiga. Through our genetic testing lab, we can now predict who is likely to get retinoblastoma and start treatment early enough to save their sight and lives. The head of our program, Dr. Usha Kim, said, “We have children who were brought when they were eight days old. In such conditions, we are able to protect their vision.”

Thank you for supporting our courageous patients and their families. As always, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at donnacampbell@aravind.org. Follow us on Facebook: AravindEyeFoundation or tweet us @Aravindeye.

And help us raise awareness about retinoblastoma so that more children will get early diagnosis and treatment.

In gratitude, Donna Campbell, Executive Director, Aravind Eye Foundation

 

 

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Have you ever had the chance to meet a hero? I did today! Several, in fact. I am visiting Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, and had the opportunity to meet 25 of our young retinoblastoma patients and their families. Some came 75 kilometers or more for an event to celebrate their courage in surviving cancer. They ranged in age from a two-month-old girl, who is just starting treatment, to 17-year-old Jayanthi, who is taking her 12th standard in a few months and hopes to go to college. I met Diwakar and his baby sister Rithka Sri – who’s no baby now. She’s seven years old and all smiles. Another girl has low vision in both eyes as a result of cancer, but that hasn’t stopped her from winning several awards for sprinting.

Retinoblastoma is a malignant eye cancer that primarily strikes children under the age of five. In the U.S., it’s over 90% curable, but in India, because of late diagnosis and treatment, many children lose their sight and sometimes their lives.

Many of the kids I met have been coming to Aravind for several years. They’ve gone through several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Some have lost an eye and been fitted with a prosthesis, custom-made by our ocularists to match. Their families have worried and suffered with them. They are all heroes of Aravind.

The one thing they didn’t have to worry about was how to pay for their treatment – thanks to you. Your donations helped these children receive the best treatment available. 

Thank you again for your kind and generous support.  If you would like to know more about Aravind and our work with retinoblastoma patients, please don't hesitate to contact me.  You can email me at donnacampbell@aravind.org -- I would love to hear from you.  Follow us on Facebook @AravindEyeFoundation or tweet us @Aravindeye.  

With gratitude, 

Donna Campbell, Executive Director

 

"Intelligence and capability are not enough.  There must be the joy of doing something beautiful."

From the journals of Dr. G. Venkataswamy, Founder of Aravind Eye Care System

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Aravind Eye Foundation

Location: New York - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AravindEyeFdtn
Project Leader:
Chitra Prasad
Project contact
Madurai, Tamil Nadu India
$78,336 raised of $250,000 goal
 
1,067 donations
$171,664 to go
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