The trinidad Guardian / Having never seen outside the San Fernando General Hospital, two-month-old Miracle was at risk of going blind.
And with a cost of the sight-saving surgery ranging between $100,000 and $200,000, it would have been difficult for her 17-year-old mother and family to raise the money in 72 hours. Miracle is not the baby’s legal name but it is what she is called by her grandmother until she is registered.
It was on Wednesday while head of the Ophthalmology Dr Anil Armoogum was performing a routine screening on Miracle, who was born at seven months, that it was found that she was suffering from a severe case of Retinopathy of Prematurity (RoP).
RoP is a condition that occurs in premature babies whereby abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina, the layer of nerve tissue in the eye that enables someone to see. The growth can cause the retina to detach from the back of the eye, leading to blindness.
Armoogum said that at least one in 10 premature babies are affected by the condition with only one in 20 needing treatment. But given the amount of bleeding in Miracle’s eyes, she was already going blind.
Armoogum, the consultant on the surgery, said that given the severity, he was liaising with a colleague, Dr Ronnie Bhola, a Vitreoretinal Surgeon with Trinidad Eye Hospital, a non- profit organisation.
Given the severity of Miracle’s condition and the need for a highly specialised surgery, Bhola said he had to assist to ensure the child’s chance of sight. While he could have made a good earning from such a procedure, it was done free of charge.
He explained that because Miracle was born prematurely, her retinas did not fully develop, causing bleeding.
“If not treated in a timely fashion, all babies go blind within 72 hours of diagnosis. The baby was screened on Wednesday and treated within 48 hours,” Bhola said.
With five departments needed to give Miracle the chance of a normal life; Neonatalogy, Ophthalmology, Anaesthetics, the Intensive Care Unit and Paediatrics, the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) postponed all elective surgeries until Monday to accommodate this case.
For two hours, tiny Miracle endured an indirect laser surgery and intravitreal injections to correct her condition. She will spend the next 24 hours in the Intensive Care Unit.
Miracle’s family declined to speak, but was grateful for the babe being given a chance of a normal life. SWRHA CEO Gail Miller-Meade said Bhola’s intervention in to assist the hospital free of charge was just one of several partnerships they are hoping to build in 2018.
Doctors save Miracle from going blind
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