Girumo is a six year old boy, living in southern Ethiopia, with his whole life ahead of him. His father described him as a funny and alert child until a year ago when Girumo developed a severe eye disease in both of his eyes.
Girumo started to complain of severe pain in his eyes and he suffered with redness with profuse discharge.
His father brought young Girumo to Azo Health Centre for treatment. Alebachew Hunie, the ORBIS Eye Care Worker examined the child and discovered he had trachoma trichiasis in both of his upper eye lids. Trachoma is a major cause of blindness in the world, found primarily in rural settings in developing countries. Children are most susceptible to the infection, with blinding effects of the disease often not known until adulthood. If not treated properly, trachoma may worsen and cause blindness, due to scarring of the cornea.
Girumo’s condition was so developed that he desperately required corrective surgery, but at only six years old he was too young to conduct surgery under local anesthetic. The family was therefore advised to take him to Arba Minch Hospital where they would conduct the same surgery under general anesthetic. The family left the Health Centre, but unfortunately the cost of taking Girumo on the long journey to Arba Minch was more than the family could afford.
Girumo’s discomfort continued until he could barely open his eyes and the pain of moving his eyelids was excruciating. His family had no option but to bring little Girumo back to the Health Centre in Azo.
Yet again, the family was told of the severity of Girumo’s condition and told if he was not treated immediately he would be completely blind within a few months. The family explained their desperate situation as they simply did not have the money to take Girumo to Arba Minch Hospital.
There was only one option… to conduct the surgery under local anesthetic at the Azo Health Centre. Alebachew spoke with the family explaining that it was perfectly safe and straightforward procedure, but for a child so young it is preferable that they are placed under general anesthetic.
Girumo and the family agreed to go ahead with the surgery.
For a six year old boy it was very upsetting especially when the local anesthetic was injected into his eye lids, but Girumo was extremely brave and the surgery was conducted on both eyes successfully.
Alebachew followed up with Girumo the following day and then yet again after 10 days when the sutures were removed.
Girumo is now back to being a happy, bright boy who is no longer in any pain or suffering and… he can see again!
To reduce the episodes of trachoma ORBIS are desperately trying to transform this region. Not only through surgeries which cure the disease, but also through distributing the antibiotic zithromax (kindly donated by Pfizer), educating locals on the importance of personal hygiene and improving sanitation by providing clean water and building latrines.
Pfizer has pledged to donate the antibiotic zithromax for the life of the campaign and to date ORBIS has received $68m worth of the drug. ORBIS is currently distributing over one million doses of the antibiotic per year in southern Ethiopia.
With your support we can continue to work towards completely transforming this region so the next generation can grow up free of the threat of blindness.