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 email@example.com. 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