Mon | May 29, 2017

China returns gift of sight to the elderly

Published:Saturday | May 23, 2015 | 5:00 AMAnastasia Cunningham
Lincoln Chambers is grateful to finally be able to read his Bible again. He is scheduled for cataract surgery on his right eye on Monday at the Ophthalmology Department at the Kingston Public Hospital. The surgery will be carried out free of cost as part of China’s Bright Journey Medical Mission to Jamaica.
Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson tests his eyes, while Chinese Ambassador Dong Xiaojun (right); Dr Marion Bullock-Ducasse (centre), acting chief medical officer; and Dr Andrei Cooke, chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority, look on. Yesterday, the Chinese government donated medical equipment and supplies valued at more than US$390,000 to the Ophthalmology Department at the Kingston Public Hospital as part of its Bright Journey Medical Mission to Jamaica.
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Lincoln Chambers pressed his hands to his eyes and wept openly. He was at a loss for words and reduced to tears, thanking God that he would finally be able to read his Bible again.

Yesterday, the 67-year-old had just signed up at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) to be one of 200 persons who will receive free cataract surgery as part of China's 'Bright Journey' Medical Mission to Jamaica.

The mission, which runs from May 18 to May 29, is facilitated by six medical doctors and two nurses. Their main purpose is to conduct corrective surgery on persons suffering from poor vision or blindness due to cataract disease. They will also be providing other clinical activities and carrying out academic exchanges with Jamaican health-care personnel.

Yesterday, they donated medical equipment and supplies valued at more than US$390,000 to KPH's Ophthalmology Department.

Travelling from Belvedere in Red Hills, St Andrew, Chambers is scheduled to have cataract surgery on his right eye on Monday.

"I can't tell you how glad I am that I will be able to read my Bible again," he told The Gleaner through the tears.

"I coming here since 2013 for the eye. I am a pensioner and can't afford to do it private. Now, because of these people I will get to do the surgery. Sometimes I can't even find things if it drop. Thank God for this. It is a blessing in disguise."

Adora Cameron, 91, was on her way to theatre for surgery on her right eye.

"I am really happy I will see clearly again. Right now, I can only see shadows," she said.

Seventy-eight-year-old Norma Brown was there for post-operation follow-up, having had her surgery on Tuesday.

"I feel very good in my heart; very good. I had cataract for a long time and could not see good, but now I can see everything bright, bright. I can go home and read my Bible. I thank God for the doctors, nurses, everyone for what happen," Brown stated.

praying for the chance

These three were among several elderly persons in the waiting area praying for the chance to read again or just to see clearly to do simple things on their own.

"Most of the persons on the list to do the surgeries are over 60 years old," said Dr Michelle Leighton, consultant ophthalmologist.

"Some of them have been on a long waiting list. What this mission has done is to tremendously reduce that long waiting time. Some who were scheduled to do their surgery in July, for instance, are getting it done now. This really is a wonderful thing being done."

Up to Thursday, the Chinese mission team had done 75 of the 200 surgeries.

Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson deemed the mission an extremely historic, pioneering move, noting that last year, there were 182 medical missions to Jamaica, 197 in 2013, and 172 the previous year.

"These missions are very helpful to Jamaica. They save the country tremendously in terms of pharmaceutical supplies and human resources. That will make a tremendous difference," said Ferguson.

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com