Back to the Marpha Public Hall Friday morning
and a reunion with the GOS patients who remained overnight under the care of the
Our patients showed, well, great patience, as each sat wearing
eye bandages while we took photos and video for our sponsors, without whom none
of this would have happened.
Then it was time for the "reveal". Fourteen
patients sit in a semi-circle on hard red plastic chairs as ophthalmologists
from the Himalayan Eye Hospital and New York Eye and Ear, one by one, remove the
bandages, then check each eye with a portable slit lamp.
stoic people. They looked stunned as if realizing for the first time what just
happened. They've been through much these past 24 hours.
Soon they begin
to loosen up. Smiles break out as they look around and blink for a now clear
view of the stark, pink-walled assembly hall and fields of wheat and apple trees
Through a translator, a 50-year-old Buddhist nun named Dhawa
Sanymo Gurung explains that her life at Muktinah, the nearby World Heritage
site, was difficult with only one good eye. Her other eye was clouded by a
mature cataract, reducing vision to just six meters.
She came to the
Dooley Intermed eye camp by public bus, then on the back of a motorcycle the
last 30 minutes from Jomsom, driven by her younger brother.
how she's faring, I get a thumbs up and a hearty "ramro cha," which one of the
Tibetan monks translates as "it's very good." Her smile reaches from here to
"There were no surgical complications," said expedition leader
and certified ophthalmic assistant Scott Hamilton, 59.
"Every patient had
their sight restored and we're very, very happy.
"I am also very pleased
with the professionalism and extraordinary dedication of the entire team,"
Eye drops and sunglasses are handed out, and soup is
served in steel bowls - a ground wheat, flour and salt mix that our own Gift of
Sight cooks have served us.
The visual acuity tests and refraction
continue for additional villagers. One man, who is illiterate, walks in and is
asked to read a card with symbols, not letters - a circle, a square, an apple.
More grins ensue as a simple $1.50 pair of readers will now allow him to do
close-up work. He walks away wearing them. A monk runs after him to explain the
"magic glasses" are only for near vision, not far.
While eyecare is our
main mission, we're doing what we can for other ailments while we're here.
Just arriving is a 44-year-old Tibetan refugee from the nearby Tserog camp.
James Conole, 28, our foundation doctor and oncologist from Leeds, UK, learns
the man was told he needed colon surgery but can't afford the 30,000 rupees
Conole is concerned: "Without surgery, this man will die."
Scott and other others take up a pool and offer to pay if the monks
working with us from the Pema Ts'al Sakya Monastery can transport the refugee to
the nearest hospital.
Later in the day the team was honored at a
community celebration presided by village elders. Ceremonial white silk scarves
- "katas" - were presented to the doctors and monks. They wished us all long
life, good health and prosperity.
By the afternoon we were off to Jomsom
for the flight to Pokhara tomorrow and the beginning of our long trip home.