On 22nd January, 2017 we held our ‘final’ camp and surgeries for this season, which means that the 100 surgery goal for this year was passed. In fact, 123 were performed. If the weather continues to be mild, more camps may be held by Vivekanand Mission. This time the camp was held in Maharajganj, and the surgeries were performed that same afternoon. Hospital ambulances transported over 110 villagers to the Vivekanand Mission hospital for testing, and after blood pressure and blood sugar testing as well as general health checks 25 were selected for the surgery.
The Sai Maa Cataract Surgery Program continued over the Christmas and New Year period with surgeries performed at The Vivekananda Eye Hospital, Maharajganj, a rural area about 40km from Varanasi. The first 26 surgeries were commenced on the 25th December, but because of the large number and an inconsistent electric supply the last of these Christmas surgeries were completed on the 26th December.
On January 19th, 2016 the final cataract surgery program for the winter of 2015-16 was held at the Vivekanand Mission Hospital, Maharajganj near Bhodohi, a small village outside Varanasi. With this camp the 100 free surgeries offered each winter by Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust were completed. In fact, this year 16 additional surgeries were completed due to higher demand from people in need of the surgery to regain independence and confidence in their daily lives.
On January 5, the New Year brought with it the opportunity for the gift of eye sight for 15 patients suffering from cataracts. The weather was unseasonably warm for this time of year. Heat is a major factor the ophthalmologists must take into consideration in performing the cataract surgeries because of the risk of infection. As the temperature increases, the risk of infection and therefore loss of vision, or even worse, loss of the eye, rises rapidly. However today, the weather is perfect spring temperatures.
The latest eye camp was attended by more than 150 people, of which 45 met the screening criteria. Out of these 45 potentials, only 19 passed the final tests and were accepted for the cataract operations.
On December 8th and December 15th saw the successful completion of 2 more rounds of the Sai Maa Cataract Surgery program.
On December 7th, after their final health checks 19 patients were found to be healthy to undergo their cataract operations. The operations were performed at the Vivekanand Mission Hospital in Bhadohi, a rural village outside Varanasi. The recipients on this day came from both Varanasi and surrounding villages, having attended the camps held throughout the areas over the previous 2 weeks.
The Sai Maa Cataract Surgery program for 2014-15 began on November 22, 2015. The best time of the year in Varanasi for cataract surgeries, and the only time we run the Sai Maa camps, is during the winter months in India. During the rest of the year, it is extremely hot and the chance of infection skyrockets to unacceptable levels. This is now our 4th year running the cataract program for the villagers in and around Varanasi. The Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust, in partnership with the Vivekanand Mission, has a phenomenal track record over these last 3 years having maintained a 100% success rate with our surgeries.
With great joy and gratitude for the service, we announce the completion of the Sai Maa Cataract 2014-15 Winter program. Each year Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust (SMVST) sponsors 100 cataract surgeries in the villages surrounding Varanasi. The vision of the villagers who is severely impaired and to receive free surgery to restore their eyesight is a tremendous life-altering gift. Once again this program was completely supported from the generous donations of the Sai Maa communities throughout the world.
Each November SMVST meets with our partners, Vivekanand Mission Hospital, to plan the calendar of events for the cataract surgeries. The winter months are the best time for the surgeries because, as the weather gets warmer, the chance of infection, and thus loss of eyesight, increases exponentially. The days for the eye camps are then communicated to the eye doctors who perform the operations. The ophthalmologists conduct these surgeries as seva (selfless service) without remuneration, so they are done outside their normal work schedules and when the villagers are available.
On Thursday 12th January we travelled to the Vivekanand Mission Hospital at MaharajGanj for the Sai Maa Cataract Surgery program. Each year this program sponsors 100 cataract surgeries, including patient care and follow-up, for villagers in Varanasi and surrounding areas who are being blinded by cataracts, and today the 2015 program reached completion.
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.
On January 28th, 23 new patients received the gift of sight through cataract surgery at the Vivekanand hospital in Maharajganj, India. The recipients were the elderly of the rural villages near Varanasi – those who, because of cataracts, had lost the ability to see clearly and this was now hindering their normal day-to-day life.
On January 29th, I had the honour of seeing the patients after the surgery, with their children and family ready to take them back to their homes. Alongside the patients was the medical staff - 2 doctors and 3 assistants - who had been operating late into the night before. On this day, the medical staff and seva team distributed medicine, shawls, and food to the patients.
Another group of eye cataract surgery patients was operated on at the Vivekanand Mission Hospital on January 7th, 2015. Today is January 8th and Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust (SMVST) is attending the follow up camp at the same hospital in the small village of Dighawat in the district of Mahrajganj. At these post-operative camps doctors conduct review exams, distribute the monthly supply of medicines and give instructions for the recovery process. This latest group is comprised of 21 villagers brought to the hospital for the surgery from a number of camps.
Many of these patients stayed overnight at the Vivekanand Mission Hospital. To accommodate everyone, rooms were converted to makeshift dorm facilities with beds, mattresses, blankets, and linen lining the rooms and hallways.
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