Operation Sight Restoration

GLAD TO SEE YOU AGAIN – Thimphu eye team brings light to the Layap vision-challenged

30 September, 2008 – For eight years Kinley Om lived in the dark, deprived of her vision and unaware of the dramatic changes taking place around her.

She is 73 years old and lives in Laya. At an altitude of about 4000 metres above sea level, Laya is one of the coldest places on earth. It is a five-day walk from the nearest road.

Laya embodies the mammoth task Bhutan faces in taking services to remote areas. That difficulty is symbolised in the form of Kinley Om, who has been blind for eight years and, given the distance and her age, had given up hope of ever seeing again. She had though prayed to god.

Recently, an eye team from Thimphu referral hospital went to Laya and operated on Kinley Om. She was among 17 Layaps who received surgical treatment. This number included 11 cataract cases, with Kinley Om being the most difficult patient. A few months before, six sturdy men had tried to take Kinley to an eye camp in Punakha, but the makeshift stretcher, on which she was being carried, gave way and she had to be brought back to Laya.

It was tough convincing rural Layaps on the benefits of an eye operation. The eye team had done Damji, Gasa before coming to Laya and they expected some problems. Next day, after the surgery, Layaps gathered near the BHU to see the result. Kinley Om was the centre of attraction. “I’ve never felt such anxiety when I removed the bandage from Kinley’s eyes,” said Dr. Bhim Bahadur Rai, Thimphu hospital’s ophthalmologist and the team leader.

There was pindrop silence as people looked on. The bandages were removed but Kinley was instructed to keep her eye closed. A few minutes passed and she was told to open her eyes. The eye team could not find words to describe the jubilation that followed. Emotion engulfed everyone and there were tears of joy for Kinley Om could see. The operation had been successful.

Source: Kuensel
Contributed by Ugyen Tenzin

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