Early Intervention Saves Baby Abdullah's Eyesight
Abdullah Faqieh was born with cataracts in both eyes, a condition rare among western infants but much more common in the Near East, where the custom of marriage between close relatives encourages the spread of congenital diseases. Abdullah's parents, Ahman and Nema, are second cousins. Ahman also suffered from cataracts as a child; Abdullah is the third of their six children to be born with the condition.
The Faqieh family lives in Ramallah, an ancient city on the West Bank in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), where St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group(SJJEH) has been providing eye care since 1882. In recent times, the hospital’s work has become crucial.
"Ongoing hostilities," says SJJEH CEO Rod Bull, "obstruct the provision and development of a system of public services—including vital health services—and precipitate the need for humanitarian assistance." These same political tensions make it impossible for Palestinians to travel outside the territory for medical care.
As a non-partisan, peace-oriented organization, SJJEH treats patients regardless of ethnicity, religion, or ability to pay. TPRF has been providing financial support to the nonprofit for the past four years.
In addition to its main hospital in East Jerusalem, SJJEH runs two satellite clinics in the West Bank, as well as pediatric eye clinics in satellite centers in Hebron, Anabta and Gaza. The Faqieh family is well known to them.
Little Abdullah was brought to the Jerusalem hospital for cataract surgery at the age of three months. "It is vitally important that cataracts in babies be treated early, as their visual system is still so new," Bull says.
Pediatric ophthalmologists performed a successful lensectomy on Abdullah's left eye, removing the cloudy lens. He will soon undergo the same surgery on his right eye. Artificial lenses will be implanted later if needed, but because the operations were performed so early in his development, contact lenses and eyeglasses may correct his vision.
So far this year, SJJEH has treated 14,345 patients under the age of 18. Its goal is to eliminate preventable blindness throughout the oPt, a World Health Organization objective.
"The proven support of The Prem Rawat Foundation has been integral to our continuing success in being able to provide vital, charitable ophthalmic services for children in a most troubled region of the world," Bull says. "On behalf of patients and staff across the occupied Palestinian territory, we are most grateful for the Foundation’s sensitivity to the work we do."
Photo Credits: Courtesy of Sama Ghosheh