Korean community provides free cataract surgery for Nigerians
Over 234 Nigerians have benefited from the free-cataract surgery organised by the Korean community in its “Vision Eye Care Mission”.
The Managing Director of Daewoo Autoland Nigeria and Daewoo Medical System, Mr Cho Hong-Seon said this on Friday in Lagos.
Hong-Seon added that the programme was organised by the Korean community in Nigeria in conjunction with the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Ikeja.
He told reporters that Korea was happy to provide the operations to Nigerians as a means of strengthening the bilateral relations between both countries.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the five-day programme that started on Nov.9 and ended on Nov. 13 had Dr Dongae Kim leading other nine surgeons from Korea.
The Nigerian medical team was led by the head of Ophthalmologist Department of LASUTH, Dr Modupe Idris and they included three ophthalmologists and six nurses.
Hong-Seon also said Lagos was chosen for the exercise because of the available equipment at the hospital.
“When we wanted to choose a place in Nigeria, we considered two things, first was the importance of the medical community services in our community and needed assistance.
“We needed government assistance to prepare this project such as getting visas for the medical team, temporary medical licence and customs clearance for our medical equipment and security.
“Secondly, I thought that the facility and manpower of the hospital should reach a certain level. Considering these two points, LASUTH was the most proper hospital.
“We budgeted and it was given approval by Dr Dongae Kim of Vision Care who willingly accept our request,’’ he said.
Hong-Seon also noted that the cost of treatment for each patient stood at between $ 6,000 (N1.2 million) and $7,000 (N1.4 million).
He said that the Korean community provided one third of the funds and the Korean Electric Nigeria provided the rest.
Hong-Seon said that, “Most of the treatments we carried out in Nigeria are cases which should have been attended to early before they got to secondary level.”
The Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Adewale Oke in his message to the event, said it was a rare privilege to have the medical team in the hospital
“I can say that this will be the first time there will be an entirely-free-eye surgery in this hospital and it is indeed a privilege to have partnered the Korean team.
“With this, we will be able to reduce the numbers of people with cataract and other eye diseases in the state. These people can be
our neighbours that may need such help.
“I am excited with this gathering, and that we are able to bring succor to the people with various eye problems. I am sure the collaboration will bring smiles to the faces of many people.
“They came with much anxiety and here they are, returning home with happiness. This affirms our collective responsibility of restoring
sights and LASUTH cannot do this alone,” he said.
Oke, also commended the Korean community and other partners such as Korean Electric Power Nigeria (KEPCO), Samsung Heavy Industries
Nigeria, and Korean Community for the partnership.
The beneficiaries of the project expressed their appreciation to the organisers of the programme for doing the operations free-of-charge.
Mrs Opeyemi Aina, a 62-year-old retired teacher, said that she had been suffering from the disease as far back as 2013 when she was about to be disengaged from service.
“The cataract came when I was ending my career as a teacher. I prayed to God to hear my prayers because the money for the surgery was too
much for me to bear.
“I was informed about this surgery by a concerned person who is working in the hospital; I felt it can’t be real. I came and I found
out it was real.
“I thank God for this opportunity and am grateful that it came the way of us the less privileged. I pray God to bless the organisers,” she said.
Another beneficiary, Mrs Ajoke Shebanjo, 54-year-old petty trader, said the free surgery would remain evergreen in her memory lane as the best thing that had ever happened d to her.
“Having my sight restored is the greatest thing in my life for now, one that would be in my best memory. Sight is the light in the body. I have been in darkness but now, I can see.
“Words cannot express my feelings to this event in my life. Where do I get the money for the surgery in the first place? I am just a petty trader. I thank God for this opportunity.
“What the organisers have done will always remain in the memory of the beneficiaries,’’ she said.
On his experience with cataract, Mr Tunmise Ogundele said that the disease was a sore-point in his life.
“I was practically rendered incapacitated with cataract; I had to employ someone as my guard because I had lost my sight to the disease.
“When I had about the free surgery, I was astonished that such could happen in Nigeria. A surgery fully paid for? Imagine, I did not pay a dime. This is an interesting thing.
“I pray God to bless the organisers of the free surgery,” he said.