Our 500th Cataract Surgery in Katherine

IRIS has completed its 500th Cataract surgery at Katherine Hospital today.  The IRIS team led by Dr Susith Kulasekara arrived on Sunday evening to prepare for a week intensive at Katherine Hospital.

On Monday, a full day of consultations and measurements were performed for patients who had been assessed as potentially needing cataract surgery.  We had the pleasure of meeting Rosemary in this clinic and we knew straight away that we had to do all that we could to restore Rosemary’s sight on this visit.   Rosemary has been blind for over a year now and relies on family to care for her. 

She lives in Bulla where her aunty and cousin look after her and more recently has been living with her niece in Katherine. Rosemary also has family including a one year old grandaughter in Palumpa who she has never seen due to her failing vision. Helen (Rosemarys niece) suggested that she get an appointment with the hospital Ophthalmology department while she was in Katherine to see if they could fix her eyes.

When I asked Rosemary’s niece, Helen, what are some of the things that Rosemary could no longer do because of her lack of sight she said that she can’t do shopping, can’t walk on her own, and can’t cook on her own either.  Rosemary confirmed this was the case and said that she also missed fishing and cooking soups and stews that her mother had taught her.

Rosemary has extremely dense white cataracts which have caused her blindness and inability to care for herself. Leaving cataracts untreated for a prolonged period  also makes it more difficult for them to be removed without complications.The hard work and dedication of the IRIS team has led to one of these cataracts being removed today. 

It was a difficult surgery and understandably Rosemary was scared.  I held Rosemarys hand for the entire surgery and I can tell you first hand that the professionals involved in transforming this ladies life are truly remarkable.

Watching their commitment and dedication to ensure that Rosemary felt comfortable and safe while balancing the outcome of an extremely difficult surgery was nothing but exceptional and awe inspiring.

Rosemary was extremely upbeat after the surgery and was smiling and telling me stories about her home and her plans for the future.

We have the great pleasure of seeing Rosemary in the morning at post op and I can’t wait to catch up with her tomorrow and every time I am back in the area to share a spot of fishing or just to hear about all of the wonderful things she has done now that she can see!

(Written by: Belinda Castellano – Program Manager – IRIS)

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