Blindness is a devastating condition all over the world, at any age. For the great majority of people in Haiti, impaired vision can lead to a host of problems—from an increased risk of accidents, to a reduced likelihood of earning a living. Saving a patient’s vision in a country such as Haiti can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Thanks to the generosity of the John Mitchell, Jr. Trust, a longtime donor to HAS, the Ophthalmology Clinic at HAS is able to treat thousands of patients and perform hundreds of ophthalmological surgeries each year. Award-winning ophthalmologist Dr. Reginald Chéry is one of the few ophthalmological specialists practicing in Haiti; ophthalmological care is a rare resource here, especially in rural and medically underserved areas. In his part-time practice at HAS, Dr. Chéry treats patients suffering from cataracts, glaucoma, and other degenerative eye conditions, as well as those who come to HAS with eye injuries caused by collisions and other traumas.
“The John Mitchell, Jr. Trust has supported ophthalmic research and patient care programs for over a decade,” notes foundation trustee Dr. John Payne, a retired ophthalmologist who has volunteered at HAS and helped create HAS’s Ophthalmology Clinic. “We are proud to support Dr. Reginald Chéry, as he brings up-to-date eye care to HAS and performs close to 500 major surgeries, mostly cataracts, a year. It’s a gift of sight.”
Exile is among the patients who have benefited from the Ophthalmology Clinic at HAS. At 65, Exile was at greater-than-normal risk for cataracts and glaucoma because of his age and the fact that he has diabetes. In the months before his treatment at HAS, Exile’s eyesight had slowly worsened until he was almost completely blind. Exile was unable to perform even the most basic tasks by himself, coming to rely on his family for help dressing, bathing, and even eating. Frustrated by the loss of independence and the burden he felt he was becoming, Exile became determined to find help for his condition.
Exile said he and his family chose HAS for its superior reputation—and for the compassion he felt from doctors at HAS. After a visit to the Ophthalmology Clinic at HAS, Exile learned that he had cataracts in both his right and left eyes, complicated further by glaucoma. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to permanent blindness, so time became of the essence in Dr. Chéry’s diagnosis and treatment of Exile’s conditions.
Exile underwent two surgeries to repair his cataracts (one in each eye), and received care and medications for glaucoma. A day after his second surgery, Exile was already thrilled with the results. “I’m very happy with the treatment I’ve received here,” he says. “Just a month ago, I couldn’t see anything at all!”
“When I was unable to see and couldn’t take care of myself, I just sat in a chair in my house,” Exile continues. “I thought I would perish in that spot.” Now, Exile has regained his independence, and enjoys playing with his grandchildren or simply walking through his town. “Thanks to HAS, I am able to live a full life again,” he says.
Exile’s message to the John Mitchell, Jr. Trust and to other donors who make this care possible: “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”