When 2-month old Mainlander, Yang Jiajian, was diagnosed with a congenital cataract his impoverished family could only afford to pay for 50% of his surgery. It was only when the boy met ORBIS volunteers on a sight-saving mission in Nanning a decade later that his long nightmare ended.
Living with blurry sight
Jiajian was diagnosed as needing cataract surgery costing RMB20,000 when a white spot was discovered in one of his eyes while only a few weeks old. A full cataract surgery involves not only taking away but also replacing the muddy lens with an artificial substitute. Sadly, despite scrimping and saving for two years, Jiajian's poor family could only afford to pay RMB10,000 for the cloudy lens' removal. The little boy was condemned to spend the next decade of his childhood with very little vision.
"Though he was always early to school and sat in the front row at class, poor Jiajian had to narrow his eyes to see the blackboard clearly", said the boy's Mum. "His poor eyesight meant he must also always move slowly. While he sometimes got frustrated, he was lucky to have good friends who were happy to play with him so he never felt lonely."
"When I turned 12, my sight began to deteriorate so badly my Mum had to take me to hospital", said Jiajian.
ORBIS has been collaborating on the provision of eye-care services to Nanning Red Cross Hospital, Guangxi since 2008. In addition to donating equipments, ourselves and our donors now provide medical training to local medical personnel and assist in developing ophthalmology across Guangxi. To date, we have established 11 eye-care centres and trained 600 village doctors. When Jiajian and his Mum visited one of these centres, the boy was quickly referred to The Red Cross Hospital in Nanning for urgent treatment.
While they wreak terrible damage on sufferers' lives, cataracts are actually very easy to treat and cure. Once his new lens was in place, Jiajian's sight was soon all it should have been 10 years before. Knowing his family's financial difficulties, ORBIS even subsidized the cost of the boy's surgery. Now able to see his family and friends, Jiajian is unafraid of future setbacks as he knows the smiles he sees everyday will give him confidence and strength.