Mission of Mercy: Nigeria Part 4 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/25/07

Mission of Mercy: Nigeria Part 4

Dr. Manocha's surgical team performed more than 50 cataract surgeries using the microscope that students donated. Dr. Manocha's surgical team performed more than 50 cataract surgeries using the microscope that students donated.
This man shakes the hand of a nurse, telling her he can see. This man shakes the hand of a nurse, telling her he can see.
Ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Manocha checks the eyes of a patient. Ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Manocha checks the eyes of a patient.
24 hours after surgery, this man is able to see for the first time in years. 24 hours after surgery, this man is able to see for the first time in years.
Family members carry older relatives over to the clinic. Family members carry older relatives over to the clinic.

When the Goodness and Mercy Foundation went on their medical mission to Nigeria last month, poor eye sight was the most common problem. WTOC video journalist Barry Lewis and Dawn Baker were with them when they handed out thousands of pairs of eyeglasses. But that was just the beginning of the help volunteers brought to the Ajalli village. Many of the vision problems were far more serious and they required surgery.

Patients lined the halls waiting to see the man who would forever change their lives. As ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Manocha dilates a man's eyes to get a better look, he says, "We are preparing this gentleman for cataract surgery."

He then shows us what he finds. "This is a mature white cataract where he is literally blind. We're going to attempt to take this out," explains Manocha.

Many of these people have cataracts that have been left untreated for so long, they are all virtually blind from them. "The end stage cataract that we see in this country are much more prevalent because in America people are able to get much more access to regular eye exams and we can take out cataracts before they come to this level. Here in Africa because people don't have eye doctors and access to care the cataracts develop until the person is completely blind," says Dr. Manocha.

By then, their condition affects their entire families. We saw family members leading their loved ones around and some even carrying older relatives over to the clinic trying to make sure they got to see a doctor. Because they can no longer care for themselves, they become completely dependent on their families to help them with even the most basic task. This surgery is like a miracle. "I would have just been helpless and looking unto God for whatever solution. I would have been blind without you all," exclaims cataract surgery patient Patrick Madagoo.

One by one, Dr. Manocha leads his patients to the operating room. This is his second mission trip to Ajalli. Thanks to students from Jenkins High School and Savannah Country Day School, this time he will be able to do even more good. The students donated about $4,000 that was used to help buy the microscope he is using for cataract surgery. "The microscope has such better optics that we are able to do more advanced procedures that we can do here now better than we did before. Most of these patients are getting state of the art cataract surgery similar to what we do back home. The new microscope and the newer equipment that has been donated we're able to give these patients good vision instantaneously," explains Dr. Manocha.

In fact, he removes their bandages during post op within 24 hours. "We'll see what he can see today," says Manocha. The patient opens his eye and shows us the biggest smile and says, "Thank you! I can see everybody."

This wasn't the only success story. Patients came every day while we were there. We will never forget seeing them overjoyed and celebrating the fact that they can finally see again. Something these patients thought would never happen. Many were waving their hands in the air and laughing loudly.

"I will constantly be happy because I am now seeing. You are more like the second God," says one patient.

"I can see people now I could not see before," adds Christopher Nwankwa.

"It's very satisfying to be able to have someone who can't see where they are going when they come in to the operating room and then on the way afterward they can see when they go out and recognize the family and that's why we do this," says Dr. Manocha.

"That is what drives me when they come in they get treated and he came in couldn't see now he had his eye surgery and he can see and he came straight to me and said thank you, that's gratifying. That'll do it for me," said nurse Felecia Frazier.

As those patients left for home, many of them stopped by and thanked nurse Frazier. "That is what drives me, when they come in they get treated and he came in couldn't see now he had his eye surgery and he can see and he came straight to me and said thank you that's gratifying. That'll do it for me," says Frazier.

During the weeklong mission, Dr. Manocha's surgical team performed more than 50 cataract surgeries using the microscope that was purchased thanks to donations students from students at Jenkins High and Savannah Country Day. That microscope will be used every year, bringing sight to countless people throughout Nigeria and Ghana.

Tomorrow on THE News at 6, we'll hear more from the volunteers about the tough but very rewarding week that they wouldn't trade for anything in the world.

If you would like to be a part of the Hands Across Africa medical missions, call 912.232.6048. The upcoming mission dates are next June. You can be a part of the team to Ghana or Nigeria or both. Volunteers travel to Konongo, Ghana June 1 through June 7 and Ajalli, Nigeria June 8 through June 14.

Reported by: Dawn Baker, dbaker@wtoc.com

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