SEEING HOPE : A LIFE-CHANGING MOMENT by Malu E. Gacuma, Jan. 21,2017

‘Life begins at 40’, that’s the usual adage spoken with humor when somebody enters the turning-point age that opens the door to ‘midlife crisis’, so to speak. Hence, humor is usually a must-have at this stage. However, it is the same age when the dreaded loss of vision can also start, depending on the person’s lifestyle. The usual culprit is eye cataract.

Eye cataract is  reportedly the most common cause of principal blindness in the world and  a major cause of vision loss for those aged more than 40 years old. A Department of Health report showed that  about 362,000 Filipinos lost vision due to cataract.

Unlike the irreversible glaucoma , eye cataract can still be treated thru surgery.

LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had  recently confirmed an increasing number of successful eye cataract surgeries being extended  by the Our Lady of Mercy Specialty Hospital in Eroreco, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental to  its indigent patients, specifically less-privileged senior citizens.

In an interview, Dr. Jeremias Manuel K. Moscardon, Jr., OLMSH Medical Director, attributed the success to the Lumera surgical microscope and Php 5.8 million worth of surgical supplies donated last year  by the LDS Charities  and the Mason Eye Institute  to the said hospital.

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The  donated Lumera  surgical microscope

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Me with Dr. J.M. Moscardon, Medical Director.

He said, ‘the donation is a big help  to  more poor patients now that our hospital is about to open a branch in Kabankalan this April, considering our hospital has a large number of  such patients. We are honored to have been chosen as a recipient of the donated multi-million-peso worth of surgical equipment and supplies.“

Meanwhile, on January 19, a group of Latter-day Saints  met with the hospital representatives to follow-up  the results of the said donation.

The group, led by Manila-based Country Director  for Welfare Projects Carlos Revillo and  Welfare Project Manager George Kenneth Lee, also included  Remus Villarete  (Stake High Council) and Bacolod Multi-Stake Public Affairs Council members Francis Muñoz, Jeffrey Plaza, Bong Ferrer ,Vanessa Nang and Malu Gacuma while the meeting was facilitated by Multi-Stake Public Affairs Director Belle Georfo and Myles Muñoz.

Later that afternoon, some of the group had witnessed  an actual eye cataract surgery under the supervision of known eye surgeon, Dr. Miguel Sarabia, who heads Negros Eye Specialists.

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During the operation, we had witnessed how the medical team combined the use of the donated technology with their eye cataract surgery technique inspired by, according to Sarabia, “the Aravind  eye hospitals in India.”

It introduced  a new approach to the surgical procedure by “scooping out  the diseased lens instead of using incision,  thus making the Lumera  surgical microscope  play a more vital role in the  meticulous  process,” he added.

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The patient’s right eye, up close

The patient named Leonora, in her late 40s, had a case of a “stubborn  kind of cataract”, as Sarabia described  both the hard lens and the soft, fluid-type  under it  that had to be taken out. The surgery  may have lasted for less than 30 minutes, but the life-changing impact on the patient would be for a lifetime.

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Me (by the door)  with brother Revillo and sister Ferrer

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Dr. Sarabia taking a peek through the microscope

Sarabia said that  with the  upgraded equipment, more indigent patients and less-privileged senior citizens even from far-flung areas can now avail of ‘first-class medical service’ despite their financial incapacity.

At this juncture,  Lee clarified that, based on Church principle, the donation was done ‘without expecting anything in return, not even in exchange for  free consultation for  any LDS members. All the patient has to do is to bring  his or her Philhealth card and then  undergo a screening to qualify for the operation.‘   Lee added that ‘this is consistent  with the self-reliance doctrine  of our Church.’

Lee’s statement resounded the late President Gordon B.Hinckley who cited  the “tremendous statement given by the First Presidency in 1907. They said: ‘Our motives are not selfish; our purposes not petty and earthbound; we contemplate the human race—past, present, and yet to come—as immortal beings, for whose salvation it is our mission to labor; and to this work, broad as eternity and deep as the love of God, we devote ourselves, now and forever.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1907, appendix, “An Address to the World,” p. 16.)

Before we left the hospital , I asked Leonora how she felt. She smiled and said she was very much relieved and excited to fully recuperate, thus having her vision back after 8 long years.

Now she is seeing hope. A stubborn  kind of hope.

–@–

By: Malu  E.Gacuma ( Bacolod  1st Ward)

Social Media Specialist,Bacolod Multi-Stake Public Affairs Council

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

5pm, Friday,January 21,2017

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Group lunch at Masskara Chicken Inasal, Bacolod City.  ( Counter clockwise : Me, George Kenneth Lee, Dr. Miguel Sarabia, Carlos Revillo , Anne Catolico ( Sarabia’s secretary), Vanessa Nang, Bong Ferrer, Remus Villarete and 2 eye doctors invited by Sarabia.)

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