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.
Donna Campbell, Executive Director
"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness." Desmond Tutu