A 12-minute operation can help restore Leah’s sight

Stories | June 27, 2019

When Leah was two weeks old, her Mum Shanitah and Dad Christian noticed that she would shiver whenever a person touched her. They thought it was normal for children to react that way when touched and she ignored this.

But when Leah made one month, they noticed a white spot in the left eye but it disappeared after a week. At three months, two spots appeared in both Leah’s eyes. This time round, the couple became worried. However, they waited for about two weeks, hoping the spots would disappear. They were wrong. The spots stayed.

After many visits to the local hospital, Shanitah was advised by one of the nurses to take Leah to Mengo eye department, which specialises in eye services in Uganda.

In May 2018, Shanitah tried her luck and visited Mengo eye department, where Leah was diagnosed with cataracts on both eyes.

The doctor at Mengo eye department told Shanitah that cataracts are treated by surgery. Unfortunately, Shanitah and Christian could not afford the cost of the surgery and all three had to return home.

‘Muzibe’ a Luganda word for a blind person is chanted at Leah by adults in her village.

Leah is a young girl and does not know what the chanting means but Shanitah is hurt whenever they abuse her daughter.

“I cannot take her to school because she cannot see. I am worried that she will become totally blind if she is not operated soon,” Shanitah says.

Leah has to strain to focus on objects that are not visible to her. Even then she still does not see.

How can the family afford medical treatment for Leah?

Leah’s parents rely on selling seasonal vegetables to be able to sustain the family. “The vegetables are perishable, and this leads to losses. Some seasons are so bad that the vegetables are scarce and get pricier. But people are not willing to buy if you increase the prices,” Shanitah notes.

“To be able to pay for the surgery, I think we would need to save money for a full a year at least. Both of our businesses depend on the seasons. I am so worried because all we get we usually spend on family sustenance. For Leah to be able to get surgery as soon as possible, I really need help from an invisible hand. At the moment even the relatives cannot help as they mind their own problems,” Shanitah laments.

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