Amjad Barakat, Jerusalem, September 2011
Amjad is a 25 years old man from Jerusalem who underwent eye surgery at St. John Eye Hospital that changed his life completely! He works as a crier and a guard at the famous Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, but the condition of his eyes was causing his day-to day living to become more and more challenging.
Since childhood, Amjad had suffered from problems with his eyes (low vision and amblyopia) as well as eye allergy, vernal catarrh, a very common condition in the Middle East. He received all the necessary treatment, including eye drops and glasses, and was able to cope. However, at the age of 20, Amjad was discovered to have keratoconus, a deformity in the shape of the cornea, that causes problems in producing a focused image, and makes the eye susceptible to scarring. The condition gradually worsened and his parents, who rely on his support, could only pray for him to improve. When attempts using both glasses and contact lenses became unsatisfactory, the doctors at our Jerusalem Hospital agreed that Amjad would benefit from a corneal transplant.
Corneal disease is the second biggest cause of blindness in the oPt. From the epidemiology study performed by St. John Eye Hospital Group in 2008, just over one in eight Palestinians who are blind, have lost their sight because of scarring over the cornea. The cornea is the clear part of the eye that acts as a ‘window’ for light to enter inside. Scars can be caused by many diseases including infections, keratoconus and genetic disorders. In many cases, removing the diseased cornea and replacing it with a healthy cornea from a deceased person acting as a donor, can improve the sight significantly, sometimes even back to normal vision.
One of the main centres for such corneal transplantations is the St. John eye Hospital in Jerusalem. Most of the corneas are from donors in the United States and are sent by Tissue Bank International (TBI). This is organised by the Priory of St John in the US.
On the 22 September, 2011, eye surgeon Dr. Nick Sargent was able to perform a transplant on Amjad. Although it may take as much as a year before optimum visoin is achieved from the operation, Amjad's vision is already improving and showing no signs of complicayions. He continues to be monitored by the experienced staff at the Jerusalem outpatient clinic.
In the words of Amjad,“I’m very grateful to St. John Eye Hospital and to the donors who changed my life”..
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