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Back to basics

In Nkhoma, I am planning carefully for the next two months as we run up to the end of the year.  We will stop working for Christmas, but will be aiming to help as many people as we can for the next two months, and hope to work flat out.

I had a busy day on Tuesday getting all the initial surgical supplies together for the modern phaco cataract surgery machine.  I and the staff are very excited about the prospect of introducing this to Nkhoma! Imagine… the country’s first ever permanent modern phaco cataract surgery unit.

On Wednesday I met a wonderful group of CBM supporters from Canada, and we showed them the work here.

On Thursday I saw a boy who had been hit in the eye with a stick some two months ago, accidentally while playing with friends.  The stick had gone into the eye initially, and it took him 6 days to get to the hospital. I cleaned it up and stitched the eye back together.  By now, two months later, his eye had healed well, but he couldn’t see anything as his iris, the coloured part of the eye, was stuck.  So I took him back to theatre to make a new pupil for his eye.  I hope he will be able to see even just a bit now.

I went to Lilongwe for a clinic on Friday morning.  Nearly hit a baby goat 20 seconds after starting on the road, and a huge 10 metre wide tree branch came metres away from falling on me and 4 patients in the hospital in a freak wind.  I then got a call around lunchtime that I may have to go all the way up north to Nkhata Bay on Monday for a cataract session.  There are 100 patients waiting to be operated on Monday and Tuesday, and they didn’t want to cancel.  In the end one of the other 7 eye docs in Malawi, who is a bit closer than here, was happy to go and cover.   Otherwise I would have been starting a 7 hour drive around now.

Finished the week with a long power cut on Friday night, so some candles and an early night as totally exhausted.

5 Speed ECCE

So anyway, the next two months. We really want to end the year on a high note, it’s been a tough year. And the best thing we can do is to go to as many villages, screen as many people, and try and reach as many as we can to offer cataract surgery or other assistance. We have a finite amount of money left till the end of the year, and pretty much will spend it all on diesel for the clinic ambulances and food for the patients. All the medicines and lenses and staff are already here!

And this is what it comes down to for the bulk of the work. I hope that link above ‘5 Speed ECCE’ works. It’s a normal cataract operation, at 5 times speed; which is why it is just under a minute long.

With the help of the staff here at Nkhoma and in the field, and the great team at Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA), Mr Kambewa and I are going to try our best to perform as many of these surgeries as we possibly can in the next two months. Except at normal, rather than 5 times speed. It’s the Nkhoma team’s real strength… high volume high quality surgery. And it’s our hope that as many individuals as possible, who are now struggling with the burden of blindness, will be able to see by Christmas.

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