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Liberia performs first retina surgery

Liberia is performing retina surgery for the first time here, with about 15 to 20 surgeries done at the Liberia Eye Center at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.

Visiting female Indian Medical Doctor Subhadra Jalali performed the retina surgeries at the Liberia Eye Center, an initiative of the LV Prassad Eye Institute’s collaborative effort at the JFK Medical Center in Monrovia.

Over the weekend, Dr. Jalali and Liberian-based Indian Medical Doctor Niranjan K. Pehere provided details in an interview with journalists about the ongoing retina surgeries at the Liberia Eye Center.

“These patients, seven of them for the first time in Liberia. Why retina surgery is so critical is that it’s the back part of the eye and it is an easy place of the eye,” said Dr. Jalali

She said the retina is important and cannot be replaced. If it is damaged, Dr. Jalali explained that they will try to repair it in the patient’s eye and when it gets damaged once more, the patient will be blind for life. 

“So, I am very thankful to the patients who have come here to help them get operated for the first time in Liberia,” she said.

She noted that many of the patients if not all, will be very appreciative.

“And we will keep following them off and we hope to conduct more surgery in the coming months,” Dr. Jalali disclosed.

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Additionally, she noted that many of her team members will be traveling and have the privilege to be in Liberia here. 

“I [have] been [here] about six days and really enjoying some of the new food that I have never taken before and the loving care of the nursing staff,” she noted. 

Dr. Jalali said she was extremely thankful to her patients at the JFK Eye Center Liberia because they allowed her to partake in the operations of eyes. 

According to her, the equipment for the retina surgery is very expensive, thanking the Methodist Church which donated the equipment to them for the retina surgery. 

“I think this is just the beginning, we still have a long way to go and we can [say] Liberia has the best part in the eye surgery around the world,” she said. 

She encouraged patients who want surgery for the retina to go to the Liberia Eye Center and do their surgery. 

Earlier, Dr. Niranjan K. Pehere, an Ophthalmologist at the Liberia Eye Center at the JFK Medical Center, explained that they started the department in 2017 at JFK.

He said the one area that was lacking in their service was the biomedical retina—the back part of the eye.

“If you compare the eyes to the camera, you know the camera has the lens, and there are a few back-to-back. Similarly, the retina is a very sensitive radio, and that is composed of lighting images in the medical process that send information to the brain,” Dr. Pehere explained.

According to him, several patients in Liberia used to have retina issues because of diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS, and so many other problems.

“When they required certain injections, we gave those injections in the eyes two years ago and have been very successful in serving people,” he noted.

But Dr.Pehere said they haven’t been on the market performing surgery because they didn’t have the space that is required.

For now, he said they have the necessary space and equipment.

“And then we have additional surgeons from India—when she [Dr. Jalali] came, she performed about 15 to 20 surgeries,” he said.

He said performing retina surgery is happening for the first time in Liberia to the best of his knowledge, and it is not available in many parts of Africa as far as he knows.

“But for the show, we know that Ghana, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast definitely do that surgery, but those countries are really expensive,” he said.

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