Nine-year-old Shadri Saddi of
Uganda, is like most boys his age. He enjoys riding his bike on the playground, playing with his little toy car and playing kickball with his friends. But playing ball when you have bilateral cataracts isn’t easy for Shadri, and often results in tears.
“Sometimes his friends will ask him to do things they know he can’t do, like play ball, and he’s so embarrassed,” said his big sister, Pamela Amika, 22, who accompanied Shadri to
Kampala to see if the
Hospital staff could restore his sight. “If he kicks the ball, he can’t see where it went. Sometimes his friends are kind to him, but they also make fun of him.”
While most people develop cataracts in their 60s or 70s, Shadri was born with them. His vision loss is severe and has been worsening.
“I’m afraid that he’ll be blind for the rest of his life,” his sister said. “His life would be wasted.”
Surgery delayed but not dismissed
Shadri was one of the final candidates to be seen by ORBIS cataract specialists at
Hospital. Doctors examining Shadri expressed optimism that cataract surgery could restore Shadri’s sight. Unfortunately, they had seen too many people with that same prognosis. They couldn’t take on another patient.
But Shadri and Pamela weren’t turned away. Because the primary purpose of the
Hospital is to train local ophthalmologists to perform surgeries such as this on their own, doctors in
Kampala agreed to treat Shadri the next month with their new skills.
“Shadri’s case illustrates the importance of capacity building — building the skills and infrastructure necessary for patients to receive the surgery they need in their local community at any time,” explained Dr.
Hospital medical director. “Now, instead of treating 40 patients during a
Hospital visit, we can foresee hundreds of patients receiving treatment in
Uganda through the local ophthalmic community.”
Before returning home to western
Uganda, Pamela reflected on her hope that Shadri, who loves to read, will be able to see and complete his studies. A student herself, Pamela is attending college to become a teacher. She’s also Shadri’s primary caregiver. Their mother died of a heart attack shortly after Shadri’s birth, and their father died a few years ago of AIDS.
“Shadri has a very good memory, so you can teach him things and he’ll remember,” Pamela said. “He can’t see the blackboard, but the teachers make a special effort to write things very big for him. I type things for him on a computer and print them very big, so he can see the letters. The teachers help him during breaks, and I pay for a tutor. It’s very expensive, though, and I don’t know how long I can do that.”
Pamela hopes that the cataract surgery will not only enable Shadri to continue his schooling, but also make it possible for him to develop healthy friendships. “I will be so grateful — not only for his vision, but for no more teasing.”
You can help
With your financial support, the
Hospital can continue training local ophthalmologists to help children such as Shadri. Please give generously so that others may see.