HCP Cure Blindness

by Himalayan Cataract Project, Inc.
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
HCP Cure Blindness
Baby Beatrice
Baby Beatrice

Two-month old Baby Beatrice was born with cataracts in both eyes. Her father, Eric, is blind in one eye and has limited vision in the other; he was raised by a blind father and has siblings who are blind. Her mother, Comfort, was born able to see but gradually lost vision in both eyes.

The young parents depend on family to help with their needs, including caring for Beatrice.

Comfort's family noticed Baby Beatrice was developing the same white in her eyes that appear in Comfort's eyes. Worried that Beatrice was also going blind, the family decided to bring her to the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital in Ghana - about a 40-minute trip from their home in Brimsu-Apewusika.

After seeing a pediatric ophthalmologist, Comfort and Eric were told an outreach event supported by HCP and our partners was happing the next day and to bring Beatric back. Eric and Comfort were both nervous about surgery, Comfort crying when thinking about her daughter's future.

Dr. Doreen Frimpong, a pediatric specialist from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, operated on Baby Beatrice. The surgery was provided free of charge to the family, thanks to support from HCP. The day after her surgery, Beatrice was calm in her mother’s arms, with no complications. Although Eric and Comfort may never see Beatrice’s face, she will be able to see theirs.

At this stage, Beatrice is too young to have artificial lenses implanted, so she will use aphakic glasses to improve her sight until she is old enough for additional surgery. Without these glasses, her doctors say her sight will not improve and she will not grow. Beatrice will need regular check-ups to closely monitor her progress.

Eric and Comfort are committed to her eye health and dream of her going to school with other children. That dream can become a reality with your continued support.

We know there are many more "Baby Beatrices" waiting to receive care. Thanks to the kindness of people like you, the Himalayan Cataract Project is able to improve eye care and restore sight to those in need around the world.

 

Comfort, Eric, and Beatrice
Comfort, Eric, and Beatrice

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High in the Everest region, above 12,000 feet, a team led by the Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology’s CEO, Dr. Reeta Gurung conducted a two-day surgical outreach in Khunde, Nepal to celebrate World Sight Day 2021.

Dr. Gurung's team traveled four days on foot to reach the remote villages in the region to first screen patients then perform surgeries. Trekking with pack animals carrying supplies and equipment, the team traversed mountains, glacial streams and waterfalls, taking dirt footpaths and bridges above steep ravines. They reached Khunde, exhausted and hopeful.

During eight days of patient screenings, 927 people were assessed, with glasses and medication distributed to those in need. Following the screenings, 27 patients received cataract surgery (2 patients had surgery in both eyes) at Khunde Hospital. Khunde Hospital is not typically equipped to provide cataract surgery. The operating room was set up for surgery with the supplies brought in by the Tilganga team and their pack animals. Rooms were divided into anesthesia, sterilization, and a main operating theater.

The day after the surgeries, bandages were removed. The 27 patients who received surgery sang and danced with joy in celebration of regaining their eyesight. Dr. Gurung addressed the happy patients, “Great thanks to all of you who trusted us to do your surgery.”

Among the patients who received surgery was Tshering, a 74 year-old man from the remote village of Phorche. Blind from cataracts for two years, Tshering was unable to walk or feed himself without his family’s assistance and had become silent and withdrawn. Tshering’s son, Karma, carried him on his back to the Khunde screening and surgical outreach.

At the outreach, Dr. Reeta Gurung examined Tshering’s eyes and completed his surgeries under local anesthesia. The following day, Dr. Gurung removed the protective eye shields from both of Tshering’s eyes. He was happy to see the doctor's face. For a few moments after the bandages were removed, he did not recognize his son. Joyful surprise filled his face as he realized he was looking at his son, Karma.

Tshering wished blessings on Dr. Gurung and her surgical team. When Karma was asked what made him happier, summiting Mount Everest 12 times or watching his father see the world again, he responded, “I am more happy that my father’s sight is returned.”

Dr. Gurung reflected on the journey to the region, “When we decided to come to the Khumbu area to do this eye camp, we had excitement and at the same time fear, whether we could make it or not. But we did.” She continued and affirmed that, “although it was difficult, this is the best World Sight Day celebration ever.”

Due to its remote, mountainous location, eye care in the Khumbu region is otherwise unattainable, making outreach services essential for patients in need. This outreach was conducted by the District Community Eye Center (DCEC) Solukhumbu, the Tilganga Eye Disease Institute, with local collaboration with Khunde Hospital/Himalayan Trust, the Khumbu Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, and support from the Himalayan Cataract Project.

Tshering
Tshering
"Tshering's son, Karma, carried him on his back"
"Tshering's son, Karma, carried him on his back"
Tshering and Dr. Reeta Gurung
Tshering and Dr. Reeta Gurung

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In order to understand and maximize our impact, the HCP Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) team carefully tracks all of our program data.

The MEL team measures indicators essential to the improvement of eye care programs, including surgical outcomes, improvements in eye sight, tracking health worker training, and logging the number of surgeries our partners provide. The information is used by HCP and our partners to make our work more efficient and effective, all with the goal of delivering the highest quality care possible to the needlessly blind.

HCP has recently expanded its data capacity, bringing on MEL Specialists in Ethiopia and Ghana, and working closely with MEL staff at partner institutions in Nepal and Bhutan.

HCP MEL Manager Nick recently hosted a virtual training session with this wider team to kick off a number of new initiatives. The team discussed changes to data governance and management, the importance of maintaining patient privacy, a revamped patient consent process, new data collection protocols, and strategies to ensure data quality. The team is focused on testing a global data standard for cataract surgeries, and on rolling out uniform data collection practices at outreach events around the world.

The MEL staff meets once a month to plan data collection, troubleshoot challenges, celebrate successes, and lessons learned. By aligning our data collection processes between partner institutions in many countries, we are able to generate high quality data which allows us to identify and share best practices throughout our partner network. Lessons learned in one country can help partners elsewhere, so opening up dialogue between our partners is an important way that HCP supports improved training and health outcomes for the communities we serve.

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In addition to celebrating our 25th year, a true highlight of 2020 was a milestone we reached together with scores of implementing partners around the world - surpassing 1 million surgeries! From our beginnings in the Himalayas to restoring sight in more than 20 countries, we are so grateful to you and all of our friends whose compassion made 1 million sight-restoring surgeries possible.

We remain committed to the work we started 25 years ago - caring for those most in need, no matter how remote and regardless a person’s ability to pay. Nothing could better capture that ethos than Tilganga’s CEO and master trainer, Dr. Reeta Gurung’s trip to Saipal in far western Nepal to treat 511 patients in December, providing 56 sight-restoring surgeries and distributing 380 pairs of glasses. Many in the village had never received eye care and spent years in darkness.

The interruption of global pandemic and the adjustments our programs has been significant - sourcing critical PPE, providing education and support to our network of partners, and right-sizing our outreach cataract campaigns to reflect the Covid-constraints. Fortunately we have been able to continue with our infrastructure and provision of critical equipment & consumables.

We kept pace with a number of essential capital projects to support local sustainability - including launching the Bahir Dar Specialty Eye Center in Ethiopia, supporting Tilganga’s operating theatre expansion in Nepal, and equipping a long-time partner and eye center in northern India.

Without a doubt, 2020 provided highs and lows, setbacks and successes, challenge and triumph. While Covid-19 had a profound impact on our world and our efforts to eradicate needless blindness in areas that need it most, it did not stop our work. In fact, Covid-19 has meant the need for eye care is all the more urgent.

Finally, it would be hard to top New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s characterization of our work, in his November 22nd column, “I’ve seen many humanitarian interventions all over the world, and there’s almost nothing so cheap, rapid and transformative as cataract surgery. It feels biblical, as the blind see again — and recover their lives.”

We enter 2021 as committed to delivering life changing eye care to some of the world’s most vulnerable populations than ever before. Thank you for your support. 

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Scanning the surrounding mountains with newly-unbandaged eyes Pyaru Bohora, a 77-year-old patient exclaimed, “Oh, it’s morning! I can see now!” Her happiness could be felt rising like the warmth given off by the morning sun. Pyaru, a resident from Bajhang, was under the expert care of Dr. Reeta Gurung, CEO of Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology.

 

 

The Rural Municipality of Saipal is home to less than 3,000, and eye-related problems affect 25% of the population, mainly due to unavailability of services. Many of the patients have gone 10 to 12 years without any treatment.

 

Pyaru, who had been silent before having her sight restored, remarked, “There are so many people around. How do I recognize all these people dressed in red, black, and yellow dresses? Where are they from?”

 

Dr. Gurung pointed toward a teenage boy and asked Pyaru if she recognized him. Pyaru looked at him for a moment before replying that she did not. Someone from the crowd then indicated that the young boy is Pyaru’s grandson who had carried her to the camp.

 

“Birendra, you have grown so big,” said the grateful grandmother, unable to hold back the tears of joy that rolled down her face. Pyaru’s grandson was very small a decade ago when she lost her sight.

 

People at the outreach were moved as Pyaru blessed Dr. Gurung for restoring her sight so late in her life.

 

“You brought me back from the grave and showed me light. I wish you a very long life,” she said. “I have no money. If I had some, I would offer it to you.” Dr. Gurung’s eyes teared upon hearing the kind words from Pyaru.

 

Nearby, a 60-year-old patient sang and danced to celebrate the restoration of her eyesight after five years of darkness. Another patient, a 55-year-old from Dhuli commented that, “It feels like someone has opened doors during sunrise. My world has become bright now...I feel motivated to live longer.”

 

During the two-day outreach in October, 56 patients received sight-restoring cataract surgery. In addition, 380 pairs of glasses were distributed. A total of 643 patients were screened to determine if surgical intervention or glasses could improve their vision at the event organized by Geta Eye Hospital and District Hospital, Bajhang.

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Organization Information

Himalayan Cataract Project, Inc.

Location: Waterbury, VT - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @CureBlindness
Project Leader:
Colleen Beamish
Waterbury, VT United States
$88,953 raised of $100,000 goal
 
1,073 donations
$11,047 to go
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