On this occasion the members of the expedition came from Bilbao, the Canary Islands and Barcelona. We met in Barcelona on Saturday 7th to leave with all the material suitcases and, after an uneventful trip with Vueling, we stayed in Dakar the first night to leave early Sunday morning for Richard Toll, a very poor town in the north of Senegal, bordering Mauritania. We carried 13 suitcases with everything necessary to be able to attend to the local population for a week… they announced that some 2,500 patients were waiting for us! After 7 hours of travelling, we managed to arrive and set up the consultation and operating room to start on Monday at full capacity.
From the first hour, the consultation began to pass by Dr. Guedel seeing patients selected by the local doctors as well as spontaneous and children from a nearby school.
In the operating room, it was difficult as always to find a good location with the maximum possible sterility, but the locals who helped us did their best and we managed to set up a fairly optimized system. With this, since Monday morning we were able to start operating on cataracts Dr. Ramon Cobian and Dr. Rodriguez-Ratón and manage to return visual capacity to patients who mostly did not see anything in advance.
The plan was to operate 10 cataracts in the morning and 10 in the afternoon but numerous inconveniences such as loss of lighting, sterility systems or complicated cases delayed the progress somewhat. Dr Mendoza, an anaesthetist, managed to relax the patients with anaesthetic in the eye but also with exceptional humane treatment, helped by Nurse Regina. And between inconveniences and ingenuity to overcome them, they managed to intervene 92 cases successfully!
Special mention also for the work of support and encouragement of our other nurse Nuria.
All the efforts for the work were compensated by the joy that was seen in the patients the next day when after removing the protective patch, they expressed their happiness. On many occasions, it was difficult to communicate because they only spoke some local dialect; but their expressions were revealing enough.
For my part, I would like to thank the Elena Barraquer Foundation for the opportunity to participate in this solidarity work and we hope that they continue in their tireless work to improve the quality of life of people without vision in developing countries.
Dr. Álvaro Rodriguez-Ratón