Just three days ago, Riyaaz Carollisen’s eyesight was at 10 percent, but now, thanks to a cornea from a generous donor, the teen may see clearly before the week is out.
The 15-year-old from Hanover Park underwent cornea surgery on his right eye at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont on Tuesday night.
The Grade 9 Batavia School of Skills pupil had lost about 90 percent of his eyesight after being diagnosed with keratoconus, a progressive disease in which the round cornea thins and begins to bulge into a cone-like shape, causing distorted vision.
In June, the Daily Voice reported that his mom, Shaqeelah Carollisen, 43, was desperately trying to raise R75 000 for the life-changing operation, as the the cornea was to be imported.
However, the operation amounted to R45 000 as the donor was local.
GENEROUS: Musician Jonathan Rubain helped raise cash
Shaqeelah , who is a private carer in Clifton, had raised about R10 000 with the help of jazz artist Jonathan Rubain.
When she found out on Monday that her son had received a donor and that the operation would be the next day, she had no choice but to seek help from her employer who had already paid for a prior surgery to the boy’s eye.
She received an additional R35 000 as a loan from her boss, Helet Merkling.
The mom says she received the good news of the donor while at work.
“I froze for some time because I was very nervous and happy at the same time, now my son will finally get to see the sun rise and set.”
Dr Mike Attenborough, an ophthalmologist and cornea specialist who had already operated on Riyaaz, said about 85 percent of corneas were sourced from the US.
“There is a struggle to get human tissue in South Africa, let alone a cornea because of various issues,” Attenborough said.
He added that cornea transplants had about 95 percent success rates and that Riyaaz would be able to see this week.
“He will have better vision within a few days. There are 16 stitches that hold the transplant in place and that will heal after a year, when the stitches have fallen out.
“Long term problems of such a transplant may include rejection of the eye, hence one has to have regular check-ups, about six to seven times a year.”
Shaqeelah will now need to raise funds to pay back her employer, and will also need to pay for Riyaaz’s contact lenses, which are expensive.