Doctors from the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF)’s Friday successfully carried out the first cornea transplant in the country.
The event which was covered live on Rwanda Television, took place at King Faisal Hospital in Kigali as part of a wider programme of giving back to the community during the on-going Army Week.
According to Major Doctor John Nkurikiye who led the team of ophthalmologists, the medics plan is to conduct 35 operations in the next three days.
“The patients have various eye problems that require cornea transplantation. Such services are not offered everyday so our aim is to give an opportunity to people who have been waiting for so many years to receive the transplants,” Dr Nkurikiye said.
Thirteen- year-old Odilo Munyaneza, from Rwamagana, Eastern Province was the first patient to be operated.
As he lay flat on the hospital bed in the theatre waiting for the operation to start, Munyaneza explained that his left eye had been itching for years.
“I am not very scared about this experience because my eye has been so painful and itchy for such a long time. After here I think that it will be healed,” Munyaneza said before the anesthesia took effect.
Dr. Innocent Nyaruhirira, the Executive Chairman of King Faisal Hospital, welcomed this gesture affirming that the team led by Nkurikiye will certainly deliver within the stated few days.
“This medical activity is not an easy procedure and we are pleased to have such a team of experts helping us out. I trust that they will deliver.” Dr Nyaruhirira said. “This initiative will certainly save most of our eye patients from traveling out of the country to receive the services.”
The chairman also advised the public to seek medical treatment as soon as one notices any eye problems as this enables health experts to determine whether immediate surgical operations are necessary.
According to Nkurikiye, effective next week, the military doctors will relocate to Bugesera where more patients are expected to turn up for free surgery.
The Army Week activities, which were supposed to end this week, have been extended due to popular demand by a further two weeks and is set to end in the first week of August.
By mid this week, the army had carried out over 22,000 patients had received free medical care all over the country.
Over half a million bricks were made to build houses for the vulnerable, 400 of which are under construction in conjunction with the local communities
30 bridges were repaired and over 150 km of roads were built among many activities.