It Takes a (Global) Village
"He could not stop smiling and touching things because he could now see." "He is full of beans again and so interested in the world around him. He constantly asks questions about everything as the world has again opened up to him with being able to see."
These are the words used to describe a boy who has just regained his eyesight.
Luviwe Thomas was just a few years old when he started developing a problem with his eyes – by the time he was four it had become very serious. A normally cheerful and social boy, he became withdrawn and anxious; he could no longer play with his friends without falling or knocking himself.
With the help of the Beal-Preston family, who have known Luviwe since he was a baby, his parents took him to an optometrist who diagnosed Luviwe with congenital cataracts; fortunately a condition that can be fixed. They then tried to access the state healthcare system for Luviwe to be treated, both in Queenstown and in East London, but to no avail. With those avenues exhausted the Beal-Preston's decided to take Luviwe to a private specialist to look at what options were available. With bi-lateral cataracts (cataracts in both eyes) that had grown to the point that they were blinding him, it was clear that Luviwe needed an operation and fast if it was to not have an irretrievable effect on him.
To remove the cataract from one eye would normally cost R18 000 – and Luviwe needed cataracts removed from both eyes. Very kindly, Dr Cook, the specialist, reduced his fee to just cover the costs of the operation at R15 000 for both eyes – a sum that however was still too high for his parents.
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