6yo girl receives sight after miracle surgery

A blind six-year-old girl from the Trobriand Islands had her sight restored this week following a successful cataract surgery aboard the YWAM Medical Ship, MV YWAM PNG.

This happened during YWAM’s collaborative outreach patrol to the Kiriwina-Goodenough District.  

The young girl, Mandy, had been blind for the last three years from bilateral cataracts; she could only see light and dark shades and was heavily dependent on family members for her basic everyday needs.  

Mandy’s family had been hoping and praying for the YWAM Medical Ship to return to their region since their last visit in 2014 with their previous vessel, MV Pacific Link.  

“We knew that the ship coming to our island might help Mandy get her sight back. We waited three years, and when we heard the ship was coming we were all very excited!” said Mandy’s mother, Patricia.

YWAM Medical Ships volunteer and paediatric ophthalmologist, Dr Keith Maslin, said his heart went out to Mandy when he first saw her for the initial surgical assessment.  

“We do not know the exact reason Mandy developed these cataracts, and though it is rare for a child to get cataracts, it does happen.  

“Our team was eager to do all we could to help give Mandy her sight back,” said Dr Maslin.

After a two-hour operation the day before, Mandy’s family and the YWAM volunteers witnessed a special moment when Mandy reached out for the nurse’s hand after the patches were removed – Mandy could see again.

Following the operation, Mandy was greeted by elated uncles, aunts, siblings, grandparents and friends who were in tears and overjoyed by the result.  

Mandy chose her favourite pair of sunglasses and received distance and reading glasses before returning to her village following the surgery.

Dr Maslin was very pleased with the outcome of the surgery, and the condition of the eye. Due to Mandy's age, the final result will not be known until Mandy is older and has fully recovered from surgery. Dr. Keith said this surgery has given Mandy hope to live a fairly normal life.

"We are excited that Mandy will be able to live a normal village life with her friends and siblings, and that she will be able to go to school,” said Patricia.

Ophthalmology represents one of four clinics operating this past week in the Trobriand Islands providing immunisations, dentistry procedures, maternal health services, eye care, diagnostic services and health education. 

The patrol has been conducted in collaboration with the Kiriwina-Goodenough District Development Authority and local health providers.

The MV YWAM PNG will complete her patrol to the Kiriwina-Goodenough District this weekend before she sets sail for her next outreach to the Western Province.  

(Mandy with her mother and YWAM Medical Ships managing director, Ken Mulligan)

Press release