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Monday, August 5, 2013

An eye opening day in Sandema....quite literally!

Last Tuesday, Chelsea, one of the Canadian volunteers, and I were given the incredible opportunity to be able to witness cataract eye surgery taking place at Sandema hospital. 

We turned up to a waiting room full of people and knew it was going to be a long but exciting day! Firstly, we watched the examinations taking place. Many people had little or no sight in both eyes and the doctor had to choose the worst eye to carry the surgery out on. The youngest patient was only 4 months old and had an infection and cataracts in her eye. After the examination eye drops were administrated to the patients and they were guided down to the theatre waiting room. After waiting an hour the first surgery took place. It only took 10 minutes an eye, but with 30 patients to get through, it could have lasted up to 5 hours! 
We scrubbed up nicely....but don't worry, we were only observing!
Jenny (L) and Chelsea (R) watching cataract surgeries

After getting scrubbed up, Chelsea and I headed into the theatre room. Two operations were happening at a time and there was a Rihanna soundtrack accompanying the silent but dedicated surgeons. We went in with no idea what to expect – and it was definitely an eye opener (excuse the pun).

To remove cataracts you have to peel back the top layer of the eye. I managed to watch two whole operations before I thought it was time to leave! The cataract surgeries performed were all free and a new round takes place every month or so. A lot of the people present wouldn’t have been able to pay for the surgery so the fact that this service is available for the Sandema community is very special. After spending a night in a Ghana hospital just a night earlier, I found that all the nurses and doctors were very friendly and recognised me when I came back. This really reinforced the sense of community in this town. 

Watching the surgeons carry out their job and seeing how much concentration was needed made me appreciate the job that they were doing and the amazing outcome of such a relatively simple operation. These were people who had been blind or partially sighted for years and were now walking out of a hospital being able to see – it was a remarkable thing to have been a part of and another reason I am extremely proud to be working for CBR in Sandema.

- Jenny

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