Form three student gains sight after Cornea Transplant

By Rose Achiego

A form three boy who has suffered advanced Keratoconus regained his full sight after a successful Cornea Transplant at Lions Sight First Eye Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.

Keratoconus is an eye disease that makes the cornea thin and cone-shaped and can seriously impact vision. In advanced keratoconus, patient’s cornea may become scarred, particularly where the cone forms. A scarred cornea causes worsening vision problems and may require corneal transplant surgery.

With the help of Benefactor of Joan’s Craft for Charity in Aid of Missio, Joan Libreri, through the Pontifical Mission Societies Malta Director, Monsignor Valent Borg, Samuel Mugi, a student at Kikuyu Boys High School, is hopeful of sitting his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in 2020 with full vision.

Mugi, who can now see clearly, has expressed happiness and gratitude to the donors and doctors who made the surgery successful. He said his restored vision will greatly improve his academic performance with promise to make a positive impact in the society.

“I am glad for the support given by Joan. I pray that God may bless her. I also thank the doctors for treating me,” he said.

In an interview with Dr. Pushpraj Singh at Lions Eye Hospital on 24th, January, 2019, as he prepared Mugi for surgery, he said Keratoconus disease is common in Kenya with more than 500 people waiting for transplant yet there is lack of corneas to enable doctors to treat them effectively and in good time before they go blind.

Singh said the hospital is currently importing corneas from the United States, Sri Lanka and Nepal urging Kenyans to donate eyes in order to give vision to the many suffering children at an affordable price. Currently, the surgery is done at Kshs 200,000 which is a high cost for the majority of poor Kenyans.

He said Lions Hospital has a good eye bank and encouraged Kenyans willing to donate eyes when they die, to let their families know in order to honour their wish at the time of their demise.

Dr Singh says donation should be done within six hours after death of the donor. “After any death, call the hospital’s eye bank department who will send qualified personnel to retrieve the cornea through Cell: +254 728 970 601, +254 733 619 191 or Hotlines:  +254 710 888 838, +254 721 973 939,” he said.

He advises that when death of a donor occurs, people around should close the eyes then put ice cubes on them and switch off the fan and air conditioner to preserve the cornea.

Speaking at the same time, Lions Sight First Eye Hospital Chairman Dr Manilal Dodhia said many children are suffering as they are reprimanded and disciplined both at home and in school with accusations that they are stupid and do not concentrate in class because the teachers and parents are unaware that they cannot learn much if they are unable to see well.

“Children are suffering because they cannot see the book, they cannot see the blackboard. They go to school and they put them at the back. When they go home parents beat them that they are dumb but they are not. They cannot see. If they cannot see, how do you expect them to learn?” he posed.

The National Director for Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) -Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), Rev.  Fr. Bonaventure Luchidio, through whom Libreri is channelling a donation for ten eye transplants, says he has already received Kshs 600,000 for transplant of three children, with one already having been carried out successfully.

He said he approached Lions Hospital to identify needy children with eye problems who could be sponsored for medication after Missio Malta expressed the will to help alleviate their suffering before they go blind.

One surgery goes for Kshs 200,000 and Joan Libreri has committed to sponsor ten patients at a cost of Kshs 2 million.