Yushi Fang lives in a small village about 500 km from
China, with her six children and 14 grandchildren. She, her children and her grandchildren are farmers. They spend their days planting, tending and harvesting crops, feeding livestock and moving their cows from field to field. Washing clothes, mending shoes and fixing meals round out their day.
For Yushi, though, work had become increasingly difficult, not so much because of her age — 73 — but because her eyesight had faded as a result of cataracts.
Fortunately for Yushi, the
Hospital had touched down in
Kunming, prepared to treat approximately 70 patients in
Yunnan province, where she lived. She would be among the lucky ones to have her eyesight restored.
ORBIS: Reducing blindness in
China for 25 years
ORBIS has been working in
China since 1982. Over the past 25 years, the
Hospital has conducted 30 training programs throughout
China, supported by more than 85 hospital-based programs. Long-term programs were initiated in 1989 when ORBIS signed its first five-year agreement with
China’s Ministry of Health. ORBIS opened its full-time
China office in 1999.
ORBIS has used the
Hospital, hospital-based training programs and other educational opportunities to improve local ophthalmic surgical techniques, nursing skills, health care equipment maintenance practices, and other key eye care areas with the goal of ultimately leaving local partners with the capacity to prevent and treat blindness on their own. ORBIS implements several multi-year projects in
China, particularly in rural areas, an investment that has resulted in considerable progress in increasing the quality and availability of eye care throughout the country.
Bilateral cataracts were responsible for Yushi’s deteriorating eyesight. With few doctors skilled in cataract surgery in
Yunnan and no money to pay for an operation — let alone pay for the journey to the nearest hospital, hundreds of kilometers away — Yushi had resigned herself to blurred, dim and clouded vision.
That was until word reached her from relatives in
Kunming that the
Hospital would arrive soon in the city, offering free surgery to a limited number of patients. With the help of family and friends, Yushi collected enough money to pay the bus fare and make her way to
Kunming with her daughter-in-law and two of her grandchildren.
Yushi was one of several dozen cataract patients to show up for ORBIS’s first day of screening. Selection criteria included suitability as a teaching case, level of blindness, age and income level. Although Yushi met all of the criteria, she was placed on stand-by, as many others also met the criteria. Ultimately ORBIS medical staff agreed to stay late and perform one more operation — this one on Yushi.
Decision to operate brings heartfelt gratitude
“I’m so happy and grateful to ORBIS,” Yushi said, upon hearing that she would indeed receive her cataract operation. “I can’t wait to go back home and be able to work again. Lately I’ve been falling down a lot and have had to ask my grandchildren to do a lot of the work for me. Now, things will be so much easier.”
Yushi received small incision cataract surgery rather than the more expensive and complex phacoemulsification technique used in more developed nations. Within half an hour, Yushi was already marveling at her improved eyesight.
“I’ve never seen an airplane before,” she said, with excitement. “I can’t believe I can see so much better already, and there is no pain at all. The doctor is a very good man. Thank you so much.”
At Yushi’s post-operative examination the next day, the results of her cataract surgery were even better. Yushi could see most of the letters on the vision chart, and both her ORBIS doctor, Dr. Kenneth Wolf, and his Chinese trainee, Dr. Hong Zhang, were so pleased with the results that they discharged her from the hospital. Her relatives were there to pick her up, and they departed immediately for their home village.
You can help
Yushi’s surgery was made possible through the financial contributions of caring people like yourself. To help others like Yushi, please give generously. It’s through your support that others may regain their eyesight and rebuild their lives.