It’s been two years since Victoria Nalwanga of
Uganda had a cornea transplant on board the
Hospital. In August 2006,
Victoria had been asked to leave school because she couldn’t see. Keratoconus — a malformation of the corneas — was making her life miserable and stealing her future. History was made, however, as
Victoria became one of her country’s first cornea transplant recipients.
Victoria is bubbly, confident and excelling in her studies. Whereas two years ago her eyesight was so poor she couldn’t read, write or recognize faces, and kids teased her simply because she couldn’t see, she now has lots of friends and is setting her sights on college.
Shortly after her transplant,
Victoria announced a desire to become an ophthalmologist. Two years later, she’s looking forward to pursuing that dream.
“When I was 14, I wanted to be a fashion designer,”
Victoria said. “But after the operation I thought it wouldn’t benefit anyone, except maybe those in fashion. I wanted to help people. I thought becoming a doctor would be a good idea.”
Warm bedside manner
Invited back on board the
Hospital on its return trip to
Uganda in August,
Victoria quickly assumed the role of advisor, cheerleader and confidante to those awaiting a cornea transplant.
Victoria sits with a patient in the
Flying Eye Hospital recovery room.
Understanding their hopes and fears,
Victoria told patients about her experience and how her life had improved. Accompanied by her parents,
Victoria smiled encouragingly to patients awaiting their turn and described for them her route to recovery.
“I told them to be patient and not to anticipate too much, that it takes time,” she said. “I told them it may take a few months to see perfectly.”
Out of catastrophe comes empathy
Rather than being bitter about her struggles with failing eyesight,
Victoria said she learned from the experience.
“Everything is planned,” she said. “In my view, I believe God had a purpose for me. There are other people with disabilities, and if I hadn’t gone through this, I wouldn’t have known how they felt. I wouldn’t have known if I had said anything that might have hurt them. If I could, I would tell them that I accept them as they are, that there’s nothing wrong with them as they are, and that they should like themselves as they are.”
You can help
It will be many years before
Victoria realizes her dream of becoming an ophthalmologist and can save sight on her own. In the meantime, you can help ORBIS provide critical training in
Uganda and other countries around the world. Please give generously so that others may see.