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Coastweek--  Three patients from Ivory Coast and one from Uganda underwent corneal transplant surgeries at Lions eye and blood center, Mombasa on 13th September 2013 by Dr. Vishwanatha N. Gokhale, Dr. Sandhya Gokhale and surgical team. Seen along with operated patients are Dr. Lata Magon, President of Lions club of Mombasa Pwani, Klaus Renken of Cornea-Help and visiting Leo members from Wiesmoor, Germany.

Medical Tourism 'Africa To Africa' With The Lions Eye Centre

Coastweek-- For Dao Bassirou, aged 28, of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, it came as a shock when he was advised to have a corneal transplant surgery done abroad to get back his deteriorating poor vision in both eyes.

Dao was suffering from gradually progressive blurry vision in both eyes which forced him to drop out of the school.

He was disturbed by severe symptoms of itching, watering and redness in his eyes for many years and the eye specialist at Abidjan diagnosed him to be having “ Keratoconus”.

Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease in which the cornea of the eye gets thin and bulging.

This disease affects mainly young children causing blurry and distorted vision.

In the early stages of the disease spectacles/ contact lenses can improve the vision but in the later stages cornea transplant is the only option.

With very low awareness about eye donation among local population and due to lack of trained surgeons at Abidjan, Bassirou had no option but to travel abroad to get the transplant surgery done.

But the cost involved was too high and prohibitive which left him silently suffering with poor vision.

It came as an unexpected boon for Dao Bassirou when he was informed by a a local Lion member that his surgery can be performed at Lions Eye Center Mombasa through a German voluntary organisation, Cornea-Help free of cost.

With a little bit of financial assistance from his friends and relatives he planned his travel.

Similar is the story of Soloman of Kampala.

He was on the verge of dropping out from his university studies due to very poor vision and lack of facilities and finance to undergo surgery in his country.

He was lucky to come in contact with a local Lions club which contacted Lions eye center Mombasa and Cornea-Help Germany.

Cornea-Help, a German NGO, has been working with Lions Eye Center Mombasa for the past two years to help such corneal blind patients.

With a common goal of serving the African patients who can not afford such expensive surgeries done in developed countries, this collaboration has helped 49 blind patients in last two years.

Elaborate plans were done by Cornea-Help for the screening of  these patients in Abidjan, their travel and stay at Mombasa and surgeries to be performed at Lions Eye Center.

On 13th September 2013, Dr. Vishwanatha N.Gokhale, Dr Sandhya Gokhale and their surgical team performed the Cornea transplantation surg-eries on these four patients successfully.

Cornea-Help arranged the travel and importing of the tissues from an eye bank in America. Lions eye center, which is the project of Lions club of Mombasa Pwani, performed surgeries with no charges.

Getting these surgeries done free of charges and within Africa was a dream come true for these four patients.

The 49 surgeries and the subsequent efforts to create awareness among local population has started yielding  results. Lions eye center has received about 15 corneas in last two years from the local eye donations.

This has enabled the corneal blind patients to be operated locally at a very reasonable charges.

Patients who otherwise would have traveled to some developed country to get operated, are travelling to Mombasa.

With increased awareness of eye donation, availability of surgical facilities in Mombasa and a great support from local philanthr-opists, Lions and organisations like Cornea-Help, Lions Eye Center is confi-dent of achieving the goal… Medical tourism - Africa to Africa.


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