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
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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Gopika, 5 years after her eye cancer diagnosis.
Gopika, 5 years after her eye cancer diagnosis.

Five years ago, I was in our hospital in Madurai, India, when parents brought in their two-month old baby, Gopika.  Her local pediatrician had identified retinoblastoma (eye cancer) in both her eyes and recommended that they take her to Aravind for examination.  Aravind doctors confirmed the diagnosis and recommended surgery immediately.  Gopika's family had less than 50,000 rupees in savings -- about $700 -- so there was no way that they could afford the expensive and extended treatment that she needed.  

I will never forget running into Dr. Usha in the hallway that evening.  Dr. Usha is the head of our orbital cancer unit, and she works with children like Gopika every day.  Sometimes she has to convince parents to go ahead with treatment, because they are terrified by the expense.  Depending on the severity of the disease, the costs can range from $1000 to $2000 for each child.  

Dr. Usha grabbed both my hands and said, "Thanks to the Aravind Eye Foundation, we are going to start treatment immediately!" And, off she went.  

I knew that wasn't quite true.  It is because of people like you that we are able to save dozens of children each year who would otherwise die from eye cancer.  

Fast-forward to 2018:  Sadly, Gopika had to have both eyes enucleated, but with surgery and radiation, she survived her cancer to bring much joy and love to her parents.  She will continue to be monitored by Aravind doctors, and as she grows, she will receive new custom-made prostheses.

So, it is with much gratitude that I send this project report.  Thank you for helping to save the lives and sight of more than 500 children in India and fund thousands of patient visits for surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  As always, I would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have -- email me at donnacampbell@aravind.org.  Tell your friends  what you are doing to help India's children through twitter @aravindeye and /www.facebook.com/AravindEyeFoundation/ 

With gratitude, 

Donna Campbell, Executive Director

P.S.  And, if you love what we do, please support us on #GivingTuesday

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Prakasan, follow-up patient, now cancer-free
Prakasan, follow-up patient, now cancer-free

Being treated for eye cancer requires many visits over a period of several years.  Most children require six to eight chemo cycles  Our doctors get to know their patients very well. Everyone has a story.  I'll give you an example of a family you have helped - one of many. 

Prakasan was first brought to Aravind when he was just one and a half years old. He was diagnosed with unilateral retinoblastoma. The family lives in Nilakkotai, about 50kms from our main hospital in Madurai. They moved to Tamil Nadu, India, during the Sri Lankan civil war. Their refugee background put Prakasan’s family in unpredictable living conditions. The father earns a living through construction and painting, just sufficient to support the family's daily needs. Prakasan’s mother fainted on hearing that her son had eye cancer.

Alone, the family could have never afforded the cost of inital treatment and follow-up.  Prakasan probably would have died. But with your support, he had the tumor removed and is receiving chemotherapy.  His prognosis is great! 

Hearing your child has retinoblastoma is terrifying.  Not knowing how you can pay for cancer treatment makes it hopeless. Which is why your gift is doubly important.  Your donation gives sight AND hope.  Since Aravind first joined GlobalGiving, you have helped provide nearly 5000 visits to 505 patients and given hope to their families.

Thank you for continuing to support us.  As always, I would love to hear from you.  If you have any questions or suggestions, please email me directly at donnacampbell@aravind.org.  And, please tell you friends and family about our work and how you are helping.  

With gratitude, 

Donna Campbell, Executive Director

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Brother and sister:  Diwakar and Sri Rithika
Brother and sister: Diwakar and Sri Rithika

If you are long-time GlobalGiving member, you may remember Diwaka and his little sister Rithika. I wrote a report about them in January 2013.  Both of them had retinoblastoma -- eye cancer.  Diwakar had to have surgery when he was two years old, because his cancer was too advanced to save his eye.  But because their parents brought Rithika to the hospital just after she was born, Aravind was able to save her vision, her eyes, and her life.  

Today, both children are thriving, and their success story was reported in The Hindu newspaper, as part of Retinoblastoma Awareness month.  

There is also a story about 16-years-old Jayanthi, who will sit her high school exams next year.  She was one of the very first patients to receive treatment completely free of charge through Aravind's Ring of Hope program.  Her grandmother made sure she never missed one of her check-ups at Aravind Eye Hospital.  

Treating retinoblastoma successfully, like any cancer, takes several years of follow-up treatment and screening.  Your generosity has supported more than 6500 hospital visits for kids like Diwakar, Rithika, and Jayanthi, and ensured that they grow up cancer-free and full of hope.  

I hope you will enjoy the full article in The Hindu, linked below. Send it to your friends and family and tell them how you are helping to end eye cancer for kids in India.  Retinoblastoma is 90% curable in the US; 90% fatal in India -- together, we will change those odds. 

As always, I would love to hear from you -- what are we doing well, what can we do better, and any and all questions you have.  Email me at donnacampbell@aravind.org; follow us on facebook at AravindEyeFoundation; tweet us at @AravindEye.  And, just help us spread the word and expand the Ring of Hope for all kids with eye cancer.  

In 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

Sri Rithika, now cancer-free.
Sri Rithika, now cancer-free.

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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
$80,604 raised of $250,000 goal
 
1,104 donations
$169,396 to go
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