Patient Stories

Gabriella's story

Gabriella's cataract surgery changed her life, enabling her to go to school and have a childhood.

Last year Gabriella’s life was turned around when the squint in her right eye was corrected by having a cataract removed.

Vanuatu still doesn’t have a permanent eye doctor, so people rely on our visiting teams. It was on one of these visits we met Gabriella. She had been born at 27 weeks and there were complications, including a cataract in her right eye. While this condition was identified early, cataract operations on children are not easy, and it was not until she was three that her eye could be operated on.

Gabriella was brought to us by her mother, Errollyn. For her, it was a huge relief the visiting team could help her daughter see again. She knew the operation would be life changing for her little girl, even though both were very apprehensive.

The operation itself did not take long. The surgeon worked surely and effectively to limit Gabriella’s time under anaesthetic and before long the little girl was in recovery with her much-relieved mother at her side.

Her mother told us:

“If she had the eye problems, then it would be very hard for her. She wouldn’t be like other children, who can see better and don’t have a strange eye. I am so glad the doctors could come and help her to see, because it will be so much better for her, I know.”

The next day Gabriella was grumpy. She didn’t want to go back to the clinic, she didn’t like the sticky tape being pulled off her skin. But then she looked around, her face brightened, smiling with disbelief at being able to see so well. Of course, she was not the only one smiling. For her mother, and the onlooking team, this was a moment to treasure.

Now, Gabriella is a changed girl. However, she is one of the lucky ones.

Our outreach team performed 194 cataract operations in their two visits to Vanuatu this year. Sadly, this is well short of the 810 cataract surgeries that are required each year to ensure no one is needlessly blind. To achieve this figure we need to upgrade the Port Vila National Eye Centre and train local eye doctors and nurses.

We're not holding back and we hope that you won’t either for children like Gabriella and all those whose lives could be changed by your donation.


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