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
Four-year old Asha, eye cancer survivor.
Four-year old Asha, eye cancer survivor.

What is the most important gift that you give?  The answer may surprise you.  It's not free spectacles for school children.  It's not paying for xrays or CT scans or donating money for surgeries.  It's hope.  

Aravind doctors and nurses see more than their share of young patients with advanced retinoblastoma (eye cancer).  Treatment is very expensive -- nearly $1000 for surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and prostheses.  Most parents are terrified when they hear the diagnosis.  They would do anything for their child, but they have no hope of paying that much money.  

That was the case with four-year-old Asha, whose family lives in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Her father works in a private firm, and her mother is a nurse. Asha has a younger sister and a brother. No one in her family noticed the white disc in her eye, an early sign of retinoblastoma.   At Aravind, Asha was diagnosed with tumors in both eyes and a cataract.  Her father's family believed that she inherited the disease from her mother’s side and refused to help pay for treatment.  Asha's parents didn't have the money.  Even travelling back and forth to the hospital in Tamil Nadu was a financial hardship.  

Aravind created our Ring of Hope program to help families like Asha's.  Thanks to your generous support, Asha received her treatment free of charge. One eye had to be enucleated and the cataract was removed from the other eye.  She is receiving chemotherapy to regress the other tumor and will visit Aravind for follow-up until we are sure she is cancer-free.  

During the past year, Aravind treated 40 new patients like Asha and 640 review patients with your help.  And, stay tuned!  We plan to expand the Ring of Hope to our new hospital in Chennai, the largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, as well as continuing service at our hospitals in Madurai and Coimbatore.  

Thank you for your continuing generosity and belief in our work.  Most of all, thank you for giving the gift of hope to our patients and their families.  

In gratitude,

Donna Campbell, Executive Director

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."  Desmond Tutu

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Ganesh, a patient at Aravind Eye Hospital-Madurai
Ganesh, a patient at Aravind Eye Hospital-Madurai

This is probably my favorite time of the year -- and I'm not talking about the holidays.  In December, my colleagues in India send me a report summarizing all the amazing work they've done during the year -- thanks to your generosity. 

It's always impressive.  Just one example -- your donations last year helped treat nearly 700 children with eye cancer -- surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, prosthetics, family counselling, travel costs, and genetic testing to determine whether future siblings or offspring need to be worried about developing the disease.  Since we started our program, you have helped fund 6525 patient visits.  Amazing! 

But as you know, numbers don't tell the whole story.  They don't describe the courage of a child undergoing chemotherapy.  They don't express a mother's joy at hearing that her daughter's cancer is gone.  Behind each number is a person -- someone like three-year-old Ganesh, who has a mischievous smile and a personality to go with it.  His family comes from a small town in the Chettinad area of Tamil Nadu, where his father is the priest of a local temple.  

Ganesh came to our hospital at the urging of a family friend who knew one of the Aravind doctors.  He received treatment completely free of cost (again thanks to you!).  Ganesh was fitted with a custom-made prosthetic eye, which will be replaced as he grows, and our doctors will monitor his progress (also free of cost) to be sure the cancer does not return. 

Thank you for believing in our mission and trusting us to use your donation wisely.  We would love to hear from you -- contact me at donnacampbell@aravind.org if you have any questions about our work, would like to know more, or are planning a trip to Tamil Nadu -- yes, I really mean it!  Come visit!  Or if you can't visit us in person, join us on facebook (AravindEyeFoundation) or twitter (@aravindeye).  

Wishing you a joyful holiday season! 

Donna Campbell, Executive Director

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Chella and her mother after treatment at Aravind.
Chella and her mother after treatment at Aravind.

Visiting the Orbit Clinic at Aravind Eye Hospital is a confusing, emotional experience.  I have visited several times, and I can think of no other way to describe it.  On one hand, I am so sad to see our youngest patients, hooked up to IV's receiving chemotherapy, when they should be outside playing.  At the same time, it is a hopeful place, because these kids are being treated by Dr. Usha and her caring, experienced team.  They are arguably receiving the best treatment in India, probably the world!

Each year, Aravind Eye Hospital treats roughly 150 new patients for retinoblastoma (eye cancer), in addition to 400 to 500 follow-up visits.  The overwhelming majority are children under the age of five years.  The sooner we see them, the better chance we have of saving their sight and their lives.  Now that our Genetic Testing Lab is in up and running, we can predict whether a baby is likely to be born with retinoblastoma and start treatment immediately.  

Sometimes the biggest obstacle to early treatment is fear -- no parent wants to hear that their child has cancer and may lose her eye.  Chella from Andhra Pradesh was just two years old when she first came to Aravind with tumors in both eyes.   When the doctor suggested enucleation of one eye, the parents refused and took Chella home.  Many hospitals would have given up.  But Aravind’s team continued to follow up with the family, and as a result of repeated calls, Chella was brought back to the hospital for surgery and chemotherapy.  Now three years old, the tumor in her other eye has regressed, and she has a custom-fitted prosthetic eye, which will be replaced as she grows.   

None of this would have been possible without the generosity of our Global Giving donors.  Chella's father works as a daily wage labourer and earns about $2 a day.  The treatment expenses were far beyond their means.  Your donations will continue to support her follow-up visits for five years -- after that, she will be declared cancer-free! 

Thank you for helping to save Chella's sight and life.  

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Ahalya and Avanthika with their mother.
Ahalya and Avanthika with their mother.

Every day the doctors and nurses in Aravind's Orbit Clinic for Cancer deal with some of the most challenging cases at our hospitals.  The majority of their patients are under the age of five, and they are all suffering from sight and life-threatening cancers.  I've visited the clinic several times, and I always come away humbled (to say the least) and doubly grateful to our donors, who make it all possible. I'll give you an example:  

Ahalya and her twin sister came to Aravind from their village in Kerala, India, when they were just two years old. Ahalya was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (eye cancer) in both eyes, and Aravind doctors had to remove one eye and fit her with a prosthesis.  On the same visit, the family was tested at Aravind's Genetic Testing Lab, where we found that Ahalya and her mother had the inherited form of this disease.

When Ahalya’s baby sister Avanthika was born, her parents brought her in for testing immediately.  Because of early diagnosis, we started treatment right away and saved her vision and her life. Avanthika is now four years old and cancer-free.  Both sisters will continue to come to Aravind for follow up visits to make sure the cancer doesn't reappear.  Their treatment and follow-up visits are completely covered by your donations.  

Each year in India, more than 1500 children between the ages of 0 and 5 years are diagnosed with retinoblastoma -- 90% of those children will lose not only their sight, but their lives.  Why?  They come to the doctor too late -- the cancer has spread and there's not much we can do.  Or, they think they can't afford treatment whch costs over $1000 per patient.

Which is why your gift is so important to us.  With your help, Aravind has saved the sight and lives of 452 children and provided more than 4000 patients visits.  

From all of us at Aravind, thank you!  

With gratitude,  

Donna Campbell, Executive Director

P.S. Please email me, if you would like to more about our program: donnacampbell@aravind.org.  I would be so happy to hear from you.  And, if you like what we do and want to spread the word, you can share this video with your friends.  

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Dear friends,

Nandri is "thank you" in Tamil, and I am just back from Tamil Nadu, India, bringing many thanks from our patients and our staff.  As always, I was amazed by the dedication, skill, and efficiency of the Aravind doctors and nurses -- please know that your donation goes a long way at Aravind! 

It was especially memorable for me, because my 14-year-old daughter accompanied me and saw many of the programs that you support.  And, travelling with a teenager is always interesting! 

We travelled about an hour and a half to Aruppukottai, where we observed a school vision screening and saw first-hand how much work is involved.  The team started setting up at 7 am, and soon, kids were lining up to have their vision checked and to choose eye glasses.  Most of the kids couldn't believe what they'd been missing before they got their spectacles!  By the end of the Indian school year, your donations helped provide nearly 11,000 eye glasses to school kids in Tamil Nadu.  

We also spent time with families in Aravind's eye cancer ward.  These are children, mostly between newborn and five years of age, who suffer from from retinoblastoma, a blinding, often fatal, eye cancer that can be treated successfully if diagnosed early.  However, the treatment can cost well over $1000, and that is, quite simply, a fortune to most families in India.  The kids we met are lucky -- once they get to Aravind, their treatment and all follow-up visits, including travel for their families, are covered by your donations.  

I wish you could have joined us on this trip -- perhaps a future visit!  I invite you to learn more about our work and visit us online (www.aravind.org). Please email me if you have any comments or questions about Aravind at donnacampbell@aravind.org.  And, if you like what we are doing, please tell your family and friends!

With gratitude, Donna  

P.S.  Please enjoy our new video about Aravind, "Healing the Eyes of the World".   

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Organization Information

Aravind Eye Foundation

Location: New York - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AravindEyeFdtn
Project Leader:
Chitra Prasad
Project contact
Madurai, Tamil Nadu India
$80,654 raised of $250,000 goal
 
1,105 donations
$169,346 to go
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