Today two of us went to Crystal Eye Clinic where eye surgeries are performed. The surgeries included patients from villages the outreach program previously had visited. If a patient is referred to the clinic, they need to pay for transport to Accra, however their surgery and accommodation is free. The surgeries started at noon, so we had to wait while the nurses and Dr. prepped the surgery room, “theatre” as they call it. Since we were volunteers for Unite for Sight (UFS), we were required to sign off after each surgery is performed. This way the clinic gets reimbursed $50 per surgery through UFS. I felt a little apprehensive asking to videotape and photograph during the surgery, but the Dr. and nurse were insistent I photograph as much as I want to. The patients face is covered, with only an opening for the surgery, so they cannot see me photographing. I don’t think I could have done it otherwise, it would have felt real invasive otherwise. Our first patient was a 1 ½ year old boy and they did sedate him for the surgery. It broke my heart to see such a tiny person getting this surgery. During this surgery I became really sweaty and lightheaded and seriously thought I was going to faint. I had some water and was fine after that. I didn’t think I would react that way, but seeing needles and knifes enter eyes, especially a little one, is a pretty traumatic sight. After the water, I was ok, and was able to videotapes so many surgeries. After the little boys surgery, they ended up carrying him out to be with his mother, he was still asleep.
Dr. James Clarke explained exactly what he was doing along the way and answered any questions we had. Ends up he went to study in Germany for 3 years, so it was easier for me to speak and understand his German than his English. He spoke German fluently. He is an amazing person. Two tables are set up in the “theatre” and as soon as he completes one surgery, he heads to the other table with no breaks in between. It was a slow day, he did surgeries for 6 straight hours. I was exhausted and couldn’t imagine how he was feeling. I got some amazing footage/photos of the surgeries, which included incisions, removal of the cataract and insertion of a new lens. At any one time, there were 4 patients in the room, 2 waiting and 2 on the tables. So our youngest patient was 1 ½ years and the oldest was 90. It was a long day, and I am not quite caught up on my sleep. I am averaging 4-5 hours a night, which kicks in around 3 -4 pm. As for dinner, we went to this place which usually stops serving at 8pm, however we talked to the owner yesterday and she was going to prepare dinner for us and serve us in her courtyard, in front of her house. She made a wonderful meal of guess what: jollof, chicken, coleslaw, red-red beans, spicy sauce and plantains. I headed to the room early tonight, wish I could post pics from here, but the internet service is pretty slow here. Tomorrow we are going to another outreach. More later.