Kenya: A Woman Named Ann

Friday I worked in the eye clinic. It was so busy. We easily saw over 100 patients before lunch and it was quite chaotic. Even with the most organized system, this many people would have been a lot to handle.

I found myself seeing new patients and I had this mom come in with two adorable daughters, Angel and Mary Praise. Angle was two and had previously had eye surgery for cataracts. Her vision is likely better, but her eyes were still not aligned so she had a significant amount of cross-eye and strabismus. Mary was only 5 months old and was found to have cataracts and her eyes did this roving maneuver where they just move all around and never fixate. This is often a sign of kids with no sight at all and the eyes are searching for stimulation. Her pupils also appeared to be completely closed. With kids, a good eye exam is near impossible, so we needed to schedule both girls for an exam in the OR under anesthesia.

I spent some time talking with the mom. Her name was Ann Wanjiru Kamau. She was neatly dressed with this embellished blazer and beautiful curls in her hair. She was unable to see, but you would hardly be able to tell. She told me about her names and her tribe. She was from Naruk which was some 60km away. She asked me all about myself and what I do and where I am from. She asked if she could come visit me if she ever came to NY and made me promise to come visit her at her home if I were to ever return to Kenya. She told me of the chai we would drink and the singing and dancing of all the people.

Ann, being blind herself, and her daughters having both had eye problems indicates a genetic problem, likely congenital cataracts. We told her about what we would try and do to restore as much sight as we could for her daughters. It’s costs almost 17,000 shillings for the operation and with two children, that is a lot of money. We assured her that the hospital could help and I prayed with her and for her. Ann was so grateful and her smile beamed so radiantly. I only wished I could do more.

Ann, Mary and Angel will be coming back on Monday and hopefully go to the OR Tuesday. I will certainly try and go see them on the wards. It was so wonderful to connect with a patient so deeply and I hope you will join me in praying for this adorable family.