MONROVIA – The Liberian Eye Center at the John F. Kennedy (JFK) Medical Center has announced the resumption of corneal transplant procedures.
The announcement comes on the heels of the center’s recent accomplishment of five successful surgeries, marking a remarkable advancement in Liberia’s ophthalmic healthcare landscape.
One of the five patients came from The Gambia with the rest being Liberians. The surgeries were performed by a medical team led by Shalini Singh, a visiting Ophthalmologist who works with L V Prasad Eye Institute in India.
The team worked for hours to ensure the success of the surgeries which was made possible by the state-of-the-art equipment at the JFK Eye Center, run by L.V. Prasad Eye Institute of India.
Singh, who is a renowned surgeon, noted that Prasad would continue to support the JFK Eye Center as the resumption of corneal transplant surgery is “here to stay.”
Eye care, Singh noted, is very important as such, Prasad will continue to send a surgeon every three months to ensure that the service is maintained and operational.
“A corneal is very important and any damage to it can result in vision impairment or even blindness. Due to advancements in technology, transplants have become safe and easy to perform,” Singh added. “People in Liberia must take advantage of this because this is one of the best surgeries with a very good outcome. “
Corneal transplant surgery, which started in Liberia in 2017, came to a halt as a result of coronavirus. The corneal, which is the clear front surface of the eye, plays a pivotal role in focusing light and transmitting visual information to the retina.
Any damage to it can result in vision impairment or even blindness. Transplantation, which is the most safer procedure to replace a damaged cornea, has long been a challenge in West Africa due to limited access to advanced eye care services.
According to Dr. Niranjan Pehere, an ophthalmologist at the Liberia Eye Center, the resumption of the transplants holds tremendous promise for those afflicted with corneal blindness, a condition that severely impacts visual acuity and quality of life.
Pehere who is the head of the Center added that the resumption of the procedures comes after a few years of a halt as a reason for coronavirus.
“We are thrilled to have achieved this significant milestone,” Pehere noted. “So far we have performed nine corneal transplant procedures since the beginning of this year and two of our patients came from Ghana.”
“This kind of surgery is hard to perform and there are not many hospitals in the sub-region that have the capacity to do such. But here at JFK eye center, we have the capacity to do much for local and international patients at an affordable cost.”
The Eye Center, Perehe noted, is working tirelessly to improve medical services and provide innovative treatments for eye diseases and will continue to do “so no matter the situation.”
According to Singh, corneal is not just about transplants but other corneal diseases.
Singh noted that she has examined 70 patients with different eye diseases in the country with only three or four persons needing transplants.
The JFK Eye Center is the leading provider of eye care services in the country and only offers advanced surgery procedures.
It is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, and it has a team of highly trained and experienced surgeons who are improving the lives of countless people who suffer from visual impairments — and other eye-related conditions.
While eye care is expensive, the Liberia Eye Center takes care of every one of its patients as part of its philosophy that everyone “who requires treatment should receive it, irrespective of their ability to pay for it and the complexity of the disease.”
They achieve this through a three-tier payment system, which is intended to determine patients’ ability to pay for an eye care service so that no one is turned away “due to their financial circumstances.”
The impact of the three-tier payment system has therefore been profound. Patients who were once struggling with vision loss and the fear of blindness have been able to manage their disease and maintain independence even if they are unable to pay for the treatment.
The latest announcement comes about two months after JFK performed a ‘groundbreaking’ retina medical problem, the first-ever in the country.