Patient stories: treating Mamush, Ethiopia, for cataracts

Mamush lives in Hadiya Zone in southern Ethiopia. When he was just eight years old, a white spot began to grow in the centre of one of his eyes. Eventually, two white spots had grown in both eyes – bilateral cataracts.

As Mamush gradually began to lose his vision, school became more and more difficult. He could no longer read the blackboard or his textbooks. With no improvement in his vision nor any indication of receiving treatment, he was forced to drop out of school at grade 3.

Within a year of leaving school, Mamush faced more hardship. His father died, leaving his mother and younger siblings in his care. As the first born, Mamush was expected to handle the farm and lead the household. Being expected to deal with these sudden changes and new expectations was even harder with his deteriorating vision.

After 12 years of living in darkness, no one believed Mamush would ever regain his sight. Yet even though each day was a challenge, he somehow continued to help with the farm, and support his mother and siblings. 

Mamush being guided by his uncle

However, Mamush’s life was about to change. In 2016 he received news from his neighbours that there was a free outreach cataract service at the Orbis-supported Demboya Health Centre. 

On 4 April 2016, accompanied by his uncle, Mamush travelled 50 kilometres by public transport and on foot to reach the centre, for the care he desperately needed. On arriving, he was screened and diagnosed with bilateral cataracts. Following his diagnosis, he was scheduled for surgery to remove his cataracts and restore his vision.

When Mamush arrived at the hospital he could only perceive light but now, after successful removal of his cataracts, he can see clearly with the aid of glasses.

Dr Getahun Abayo, the cataract surgeon at the health centre, told us: “I am grateful for the support of Orbis which is enabling us to reach thousands of other people like Mamush, who are suffering from blindness when it is easily treatable.”

From Mamush's smile, it's clear he feels the same.

Mamush after surgery with his mother and uncle

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