Our graduates need us

Our graduates need us

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Dr Carole Poloso spent four years in Fiji training to become an eye doctor – far away from her family. Now she is back home, restoring sight to patients like 5-month-old Shaylan. We can’t leave her, or our other graduates, unsupported.

Dr Carole spent four years at The Pacific Eye Institute in Fiji, studying for her Masters in Medicine in Opthalmology. At the end of 2019, she completed her studies and returned home to the Solomon Islands to serve her community. She arrived not a moment too late, as doctors had been cut off from travelling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now she has returned and joined the small eye care team in the Solomon Islands; she is already making a difference to help end preventable blindness in her local community.

Born blind

Shaylan had never seen his parents face until Dr Carole operated on him at five months old.

Cataracts in both eyes left baby Shaylan without the ability to see much more than light and blurred shapes. No way to know where voices were coming from. Trying to learn and grow without sight. Dr Carole returned from her training, performed a successful bi-lateral cataract surgery - giving Shaylan his sight for the first time at just five months old.

The moment after successful surgery is a true miracle. His little face lights up and his family is instantly relieved of the immense weight placed on them. Shaylan can smile with his mother and see his Father’s happy face. For them, the anxiety and stress over the development of their child is replaced by complete joy.

“Our son will be able to see us, his loving parents, and achieve what the future holds for him, with no limitations.”

-Lily and Knoxley, Shaylan’s parents

Shaylan has had one successful surgery, but it didn't end there.

He needed a second surgery two months later as the cataracts tried to grow back. The team then fit him for custom-made, tiny wrap-around glasses.

When Shaylan is around two years old, he will have another operation, this time to fit an intraocular lens so that he will fully gain his sight.

Now situated permanently in the Solomon Islands, Dr Carole will be there to help Shaylan and his family again and again.

If Dr Carole was not there, his life would be wildly different.

Dr Carole is supported by senior eye doctors, including Dr John Szetu, The Foundation’s Medical Director. Dr John is currently based in the Solomon Islands and unable to travel. But not all our graduates have this support right now.

Our Graduate Programme is crucial.

We now have a full-time eye doctor in the seven key countries we work in. But some countries, such as Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, only have one eye doctor for the whole country. We need your help to change this, to train more eye doctors and more eye nurses. One doctor cannot do it all.

COVID-19 has made our work more challenging. With the backlog of patients who desperately need to be screened and some eye doctors still unable to move between countries, each nation must rely heavily on its own resources. Imagine if you hadn’t helped us train the current eye doctors in the first place.

But we need more than eye doctors and eye nurses.

It’s easy to think, the eye doctors and nurses are there now and the solution has been found. Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. Many of the eye clinics have equipment that is old and no longer fit for purpose. Much of it needs long over-due maintenance or replacing altogether.

Medicines and supplies like anaesthetic and antibiotics are often scarce. Even Shaylan’s glasses are not readily available and need to be made. It’s sad to see our graduates without the tools they desperately need just to undertake the work they have been trained to do.

Your support means we don’t just train eye doctors and eye nurses. It means we support them once they have returned home, mentor them to restore sight and provide the best results for their patients. While we get support from governments in the Pacific, it is not sufficient to cover our costs. That’s why our graduates need you.

“In my lifetime I wanted to be able to do my best and, at the end of it, be satisfied that I have done as much as I can with what I have been given. I have been privileged to be given this opportunity by The Foundation to eventually serve my people and to do so with the late Fred Hollows’ non-discriminatory passion for humankind.”

- Dr Carole

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