Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fly Eyes and Cataracts

When the people return from the cataract surgeries, they all have fly eyes. Over the last year we have performed 125 cataract surgeries. Each patient is sent home with Fly Eyes (dark sunglasses). Today I finished downloading some of the photos from some of the folks that have had cataract surgeries in 2008. There are two men in particular that I want to introduce you to.

The first is Don Theodoro. We identified that Don Theodoro needed cataract surgery when he arrived at one of our Eye Clinics in San Lorenzo, Valle, Honduras. You can see a photo of him when he arrived at the clinic to the left.

I was the hottest day of the year and he arrived in rubber boots, that is the what he works in. Don Theodoro collects cans and plastic and sells them in order to make a living. His wife sews. His children are all in school.

We always ask for an address and then when it is time for the surgery, we go track down the patient. Do Theodoro was a "BURRO". This is a nice way of saying he was VERY uncooperative!! I am 5 feet tall and I tower over Don Theodoro, BUT he is a tough cookie.

First I sent Jose "Cobra" Benavides, Ex Honduran Police Special Forces Cobra to track him down. He refused to come for surgery. Then Victor from COVA went looking for him and once again he refused. But his cataract was mature and we all knew that if he didn't have surgery soon, he would be blind. When the two men failed, I went myself.

Not only did he refuse to have surgery, but he turned around and walked away from me while I was talking to him. He made me mad, so I marched into his house and talked to his wife and children. He might have discouraged the men, but I was not going to be outdone by this shorty!

They said, "Dad does what he wants to do and no one can tell him anything." I responded, "You all have him spoiled!" I then told his wife, "Do you realize that when he is blind, one of you will have to be his eyes for him? Do you realize that he will need full time care, so instead of your daughter going to school she will have to stay home and take care of him. Instead of you being a seamstress, you will be a nurse." Then they told me, "We realize but Theodoro is going to do what he is going to do."

I then gave his wife a tip. I said, "When he comes home and asks where is dinner, tell him he needs to learn to cook now, before he is blind and can't learn, because you are not going to take care of someone who refuses to take care of himself." And I continued, "When he asks for his clothes for tomorrow you tell him he needs to learn to take care of himself, because you are not going to take care of a blind man that could have had surgery for FREE but refused."

The next morning much to my surprise Don Theodoro showed up to catch the ride to go to Tegucigalpa for his surgery. I said, "I am surprised to see you here." He said, "I am mad at you!" I said, "That is too bad. But why are you mad at me?" He responded, "Because you turned my whole family against me!" His wife stood beside him smiling from ear to ear. She was glad that he had "decided" to have his surgery. Meanwhile we did an eye exam on her and found that she also had cataracts in both eyes.

He unwillingly left for his surgery, piled into the back of the Land Rover with all the others like a bunch of sardines. But the surprise was when this "BURRO" returned! He was gentle as a lamb! Here is a photo of Don Theodoro after his surgery with his "Fly Eyes". Look at this photo and imagine, I am only 5 feet tall.

He returned saying that he could hardly wait to have his other surgery done. He wanted to send his wife to have surgery also. He wanted to hug me. He volunteered to be one of our speakers on the television program and he told it like it really was on the program. He said he was mad, he said he didn't want to go, he said he was forced by his family to go, then he said how much he appreciated the surgery. I even received another hug!

Last year was incredibly productive! We were able to identify over 450 cataracts and were able to perform surgery on 125+ of those. Hopefully this year we will identify more people with cataracts and be able to perform all of the surgeries.

In the photo to the left on the right hand side you will see a man in a blue jean jacket. This man is a pastor from a small village called Moracito. When we arrived at his church to have an eye brigade, the church was filthy! I was shocked. There was rat poop and bird poop all over the floor. My team of volunteers were appalled. We immediately started cleaning up the floor, but as we were doing so, I noticed the pastor was having problems seeing the latches on the windows to open them. It soon became crystal clear to me that he couldn't see hardly anything. I asked him if he would like to have his eyes examined, but he declined until after everyone else had received their examination. At the very end of the day we examined his eyes only to confirm my suspicion, he was almost blind from cataracts. He went for the surgery on his first eye and forgot to take his razor, he returned a few days later, seeing and thrilled! His church is now clean. He had no idea and no one had told him it was a mess. IMAGINE the change for him!
To the left is another group of "fly eyes". They all came home, to San Lorenzo part of the "Fly Eye" Club and all happy. Several will join us next month for their other eye surgery. The people do not pay anything for these surgeries. We are looking for people to donate to the cause. You can help change these people's lives!
To the left are the people all jammed into the Land Rover, returning from their trip to Tegucigalpa for their cataract surgeries.
This group had several women patients.
The newly seeing patients receiving last minute instructions prior to returning home.
A church loaned us their bus and we were able to perform surgery on more patients. Victor Montoya is standing behind all of the patients. This proves that the "Fly Eye" Club is still growing.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Fly Eye Club, sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie! Seriously, the photos are heartwarming.