Liza Villanueva Angelita was born premature on January 8, 2006, in northern
Peru. Because she arrived two weeks early, at a very low birth weight and with multiple medical conditions, she spent her first several days in an incubator.
Among the medical conditions Liza was born with was retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) — a disease that occurs when the retina has insufficient time to develop. Premature babies like Liza, who are placed in an incubator, risk going blind from ROP if the oxygen they receive is improperly mixed. Special equipment and training are required to ensure a safe level of oxygen therapy. Unfortunately, this equipment and training is largely unavailable in developing countries.
Rotary Club in
Wisconsin steps in
Dr. Michael Vrabec, an ORBIS volunteer faculty member, understands the urgent need for ROP training and equipment in developing countries.
Through Dr. Vrabec’s recommendation, the Appleton Rotary Club West in
USA, and Rotary District 6220, donated $8,455 towards the purchase of a cryosurgical unit and an electrocautery unit for the Instituto Regional de Oftalmologia (IRO) — an ORBIS partner in
Peru. This donation was then matched by The Rotary Foundation. Robert De Jong, director of international services for the Rotary Club of Appleton West, facilitated the matching gift application process.
Along with a $100 donation from the Rotary Club of Trujillo, the IRO was able to purchase the needed equipment. The new cryosurgical unit allows ophthalmologists in
Trujillo to treat detached retinas — a blinding complication of ROP, and one that struck little Liza in both of her eyes. The electrocautery unit enables doctors to control retinal bleeding.
Members of the Appleton Rotary Club West visited members of the Instituto Regional de Oftalmologia
Trujillo. Left to right, in orange: Victoria Reigel, Dennis Rezner, Cody Mares and Lyle Reigel. In blue is Dr. Alberto Manrique of the IRO. The group is standing around the new cryogenic equipment the IRO is using to treat retinal patients.
Now Liza can see
Liza was one of the beneficiaries of the Rotary Club’s donation. Using the new equipment, doctors were able to reattach her retinas, sparing her a lifetime of blindness.
Although Liza suffers from severe nearsightedness and attends the
School for the
Blind, her eyesight is improving.
At 10 months, Liza began responding to stimuli, such as bright colors. She now recognizes faces, picks up objects off the floor and tracks movement.
Her left eye, in particular, is showing continual progress.
“She has a favorite brother,” Liza’s mother said. “When her other brother approaches her, she recognizes him and pushes him away. By this we know that she can see well enough to recognize faces.”
Liza’s doctor, Dr. Jaime Huaman, expects Liza to ultimately attend a school for sighted children.
“She attends the blind school right now to give her the support she needs to allow her to transition to a regular school,” he said.
ORBIS would like to thank Dr. Vrabec and Mr. De Jong, the Rotary Club of Appleton West, The Rotary Foundation and the Rotary Club of Trujillo. Because of their efforts, Liza and other children born prematurely have a chance to live a normal life.
You can help
The need for training and equipment to prevent, diagnose and treat ROP is tremendous. If you would like to help other children like Liza regain their sight, please consider donating today. Your gift means so much to those in need.