Letter from Rwanda from Drs. Mathenge and Nkurikiye

A letter of appreciation to the FIAT LUX Foundation

Two weeks ago Dr. Thomas Tayeri landed at Kigali International airport as a guest of the Rwanda International Institute of Ophthalmology (RIIO). He was the last one on the his flight to leave the arrival hall accompaniedby his mum and daughter as he pushed 4 trolleys packed with boxes and serious looking briefcases. Little did he realise what a difference his 2 week visit would make in so many lives. Many stories can be told of his time in Kigali but here is just one.

Two weeks before Dr Tayeri arrived in Kigali, ophthalmologists from RIIO started the first ever glaucoma screening in Rwanda. The idea was that if we identified any difficult to treat cases, then Dr. Tayeri, an experienced glaucoma specialist from Palo Alto California, would assist us with their management. Twenty-seven year old Mukamunana   was sent to the clinic at the Rwanda Military Hospital as one of the patients detected during the screening. She attended the eye clinic assuming she had a small problem and would get an eye drop and go home.  When Dr. Tayeri examined her, he looked perplexed. “How can such a young woman have such severe disease? These are the deepest cups I have ever seen!”  Unfortunately Mukamunana was already irreversibly blind in one eye and had lost 80% sight in her other eye. After several further tests, Ms. Mukamunana was put on the operation list for the next day. Then Dr. Tayeri said “Does she have children? I want to examine them.” Besides the little baby strapped on her back, she had 2 other children: an eight year old and a six year old......and unfortunately the 6 year old had already lost 90% sight in both eyes from glaucoma! The intraocular pressure in the child’s eyes was so high that no surgery could be done immediately, but she was urgently started on medication. Mukamunana went on to have exactly the same surgery that Dr Tayeri would perform on his patients in California. Additionally he trained Dr. Nkurikye and Dr. Mathenge on how to carry out the latest tube shunt surgery, and provided all the consumables and equipment needed to keep doing this surgery even after he left.  They will thus be able to operate on Mukamunana’s daughter when the intraocular pressure is controlled. Understandably, Mukamunana’s husband was in shock. But his words to one of the nurses at the clinic as he waited for his wife to leave the operation room sums up things nicely....”What would have happened to my family had the American doctor not come to Rwanda?”

Mukamunana with baby strapped on back just ten minutes after her glaucoma surgery.

Mukamunana with baby strapped on back just ten minutes after her glaucoma surgery.

Her six year old daughter already partially blind from glaucoma now started on treatment.

Her six year old daughter already partially blind from glaucoma now started on treatment.

Fiat Lux Foundation donated so much equipment to RIIO that the RIIO ophthalmologists can now tackle almost any eye condition in Rwanda without referring patients outside the country.  Besides equipment for diagnosing and treating glaucoma, Fiat Lux Foundation donated equipment for tackling diabetic retinopathy, cataract and its complications, and equipment for diagnosing most anterior segment conditions. Dr. Tayeri interacted with 9 of the twelve ophthalmologists in Rwanda during a continuing medical education session at the King Faisal Hospital, where he went over the latest knowledge and evidence for glaucoma management with them. Additionally, he taught ophthalmic technicians from the Kigali Health Institute and performed surgery in three different hospitals in Rwanda. During his visit, Dr. Tayeri and the Rwandan ophthalmologists performed surgery on 112 eyes.

On behalf of the Rwandan people, the Rwanda International Institute of Ophthalmology wishes to thank Dr. Tayeri and the Fiat Lux Foundation for the generous donation of time, expertise, and equipment. So many benefited and so many more will continue to benefit from your kind gesture. We thank Fiat Lux Foundation’s supporters whom we do not know but whose continued support helps change lives miles away from home.

Dr Ciku Mathenge and Dr John Nkurikiye

 

Rwanda International Institute of Ophthalmology

PO BOX 312 Kigali RWANDA Tel +250788307810 +250722722938