A Glimpse Into the World of Eyes

by John & Jess Cropsey

When we moved to Kibuye in November, there was a small, unused room at the end of the hospital that was full of ancient eye equipment, worn eye charts, and assorted glasses and lenses -- remnants of an eye program that operated on a weekly basis years ago, with all those requiring surgery sent to the capital city several hours away.  Before we could start patient care, some major renovations were needed.  Until recently, it wasn't uncommon to see the odd combination of construction and medical supplies.

The operating room under construction, temporarily used as a lecture hall for the Hope Africa medical students rotating on ophthalmology.

While construction was underway, it was necessary to figure out what supplies are available in the country.  One of the ophthalmologists in Bujumbura was very helpful in connecting John with the right folks for acquiring glasses and medicine.

The display case that John built for glasses.  We have discovered that glasses are a highly desired item in Burundi and patients are eager to have them, even if they don't really need them!  

Today, the Kibuye Eye Clinic has around 80 patients each clinic day and approximately 10 operative cases each week.  

Since there was no existing eye program when we arrived, the hospital administration needed to hire new staff to work with John.  On the team, there is 1 general doctor (hoping to complete an ophthalmology residency program in the future), 2 nurses, 2 general workers, and 1 cleaner.  None of them had any experience with eye care, so they’ve had a steep learning curve over the last few months.  They are working hard (including some very long hours on clinic days) and are doing a really good job. 

The next step for the eye program is to start mobile clinics.  Since eye care (and surgical care in particular) has never been routinely available in this part of the country, there is a big need for education in basic eye care.  For example, our family recently went to visit a friend.  While we were there, Jess noticed a young neighbor boy with an eye problem (photo below -- boy in the front, far right).  John took a look and told him to come to the clinic the next day.  It turns out he had a large foreign body stuck on his eye that had been there for several months.  The mother said that she never brought him to the hospital because she thought it couldn’t be cured.  John was able to remove it from his eye and hopefully with time his cornea will completely heal.  Basic education could go a long way in decreasing the number of patients who come to the hospital too late.     

One young patient has been on our family's heart and mind the last few weeks.  His name is Butoyi and he has been diagnosed with retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye).  Treatment involves chemotherapy which is not available anywhere in the country of Burundi.  So, he and his father recently traveled to Rwanda where there is a new program for children with retinoblastoma.  The disease is advanced and he was very quiet on our journey to and from the capital city to get passports for them to leave the country.  Please pray for this young boy, his family, and the medical staff that are caring for him.  

There is still much to be done, but we are so thankful for how God is growing this work and we pray that it is a blessing to many.  

1 comment:

Jennifer Ronco said...

Praying for the little boy with eye cancer and the work you are doing!