The surgeries had been held the previous night and when we arrived the patients were resting in their hospital beds. Three rooms held the 21 patients, who were each accompanied by a family member. It was a cold morning and many were still wrapped in their blankets resting, as the surgeries had not been completed until 3am that morning.
To celebrate the completion of the program, a small bhandara (feast) was held for the patients and their families on the hospital roof. Once everyone has eaten their fill, photographs are taken, instructions for the medicines are given, and the patients are given a blanket, a gift bag with a photo of Sai Maa, sunglasses and some snacks for the journey back to their villages. Finally before returning, the doctors remove the bandages and do an eye test for each of the patients. There has again been 100% success rate with the operations. Now it is time for the patients to follow the instructions given and take the medicine provided.
This last group reminded me of the gift these surgeries are. None of these patients can afford the surgery they require but 2 cases particularly touch me. One is an old man with cataracts in both eyes who is essentially blind. The surgery in one eye allowed him to see something again even as early as the eye tests and so he can now regain some independence and dignity. The second is a relatively young man in his mid 30s. Doctors know his sight cannot be fully restored as he has other complications not related to cataracts. However the improvement offered by replacing his clouded lens, has given him a new opportunity to join in with life. What a gift through Sai Maa!