had almost finished the day’s surgeries. Most of the team in the small
hospital had gone home, it was dark. My assistant, our nurses and my
colleague, Alberto, who organized this cataract mission in this remote area
of Peru, were with me.
A bearded man stumbled across the hallway. The OR opened into a dark
courtyard on the second floor and the rain made the stairs slippery. He had
a cane to feel his way; he did not even know that it was dark. His name was
Solomon. He was crying.
“Please, please help me” he begged, still sobbing, and he told Alberto his
story. He was from far away, a mountain home. He had lost his vision in one
eye some years ago from an accident; it was shriveled in the socket. He
lived with his son until his son was falsely accused of rape and imprisoned,
leaving Solomon alone to care for himself.
As he became blind in the other eye, it was too dangerous for him to
continue to live on the mountain; he had to move to the city, he could no
longer find food because of his blindness.
He moved into a corner of the market place in Quillabamba, there he could
find food. The merchants fed him and let him stay in his corner, but they
were slowly losing their patience with him. Solomon heard there was a team
of eye surgeons, and he came to the hospital seeking help. He would starve
to death if he could not see. He would die.
I pulled out a flashlight, saw the black cataract in his eye and we
scheduled him for the next evening for removal of the cataract. And in the
twilight of the next evening, our team removed Solomon’s cataract and
replaced it with an intraocular lens implant. We patched his eye, and
Alberto took him back to the market place still blind. The merchants were
not too happy with us, bringing him back blind.
Alberto and I were on our way to the market the next day to make a “house
call” to see Solomon, when he showed up at the hospital. We removed the
patch, placed drops; he was still not seeing well because of the effect of
the retro bulbar block, done less than 12 hours before. Alberto and I
accompanied him in a small rickshaw back to the market as we had another
house call to make.
Then the miracle began. We helped Solomon out of the rickshaw, and he felt
the steps up to the market with his cane, barely opening his eye. We walked
behind him, testing how well he could function in this makeshift home. I
wanted to run to him, hold his arm, help him up the steps, but Alberto
said,” watch, wait…” Suddenly Solomon put the cane under his arm as he
realized he could see, he walked unassisted, slowly up the steps. Then he
started walking so briskly, we had to almost run to keep up with him! He
Watching this transformation was really an incredible miracle.
merchants were in awe as they watched him; he was nearly skipping across the
pavement. We arranged for one of the ladies in the fruit stand to do his
post op eye drops.
My friend and I stopped for a coffee in the market, and on our way out,
wanted one last time to see Solomon, to say goodbye... But he had already
left for his home in the mountains. He was free, he could see.