REJECTED by the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) in Mt Hope, for her daughter who is afflicted with Downs Syndrome and who developed scars on the cornea of her right eye, a Tunapuna mother yesterday thanked a medical team of the San Fernando General Hospital who performed ground-breaking cornea transplant surgery which saved the patient’s eyesight.
The surgery was performed by a team of between 17 to 20 medical personnel comprising doctors and nurses led by Dr Josh Ramkissoon and head of the Ophthalmology Department Dr Anil Armoogum. Speaking yesterday, Brenda Henry said she sought help for her daughter Faith Haynes, 22, for the past year and half at the EWMSC, Haynes’ right eye turned blue as one of the layers on the cornea had ruptured.
“They (officials at the EWMSC) said they could not do that type of surgery as they do not have the equipment,” Henry said adding, “and they advised me to go abroad.
I just did not have the funds to do this.” The cost to do surgery abroad was $40,000. She turned to the San Fernando General Hospital.
“I am very very grateful and thankful to God and everybody. I am grateful to Dr Ramkissoon, the Regional CEO and the SWRHA. Everyone dealt with me and my daughter in a professional and humane manner,” Henry said.
Dr Ramkissoon said the surgery was a “right penetrating keratoplasty” or a cornea graft surgery which had taken about an hour to complete. “This patient, a 22 year old Downs Syndrome patient, developed a very large scar in her right eye which impeded her vision and her ability to function and the treatment for this surgery is cornea graft surgery,” Dr Ramkissoon said.
“The scars can worsen and her condition to deteriorate, so we had to get a donor cornea which was purchased by the RHA abroad and we today removed the bad cornea and replaced it with the donor tissue,” he added. Dr Armoogum said TT does not have a tissue bank so the cornea tissue was purchased from the Lions International eye bank in Florida at a cost of US$2,000.
“We were lucky in this case, the mechanisms were put in place for the SWRHA to source and purchase the cornea from a foreign bank at no cost to the patient,” he said.