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'The following story is from a recent newsletter from Kibuye Eye Clinic in Burundi, Africa where Dr. John Cropsey and Dr. Darrell Baskin and their families serve.  

What’s the longest that you’ve walked to get somewhere?  A few miles?  Likely it was a recreational choice, not a medical necessity.  In Burundi, a country with only a handful of ophthalmologists, it is incredibly difficult to find access to eye care.  An example is Mamma Eliane.  Her husband abandoned her and took their two healthy children with him, leaving her destitute with only the youngest child who had retinoblastoma (RB), in both eyes.  Desperate for help for the only person left in her life, she walked barefoot with two year old Eliane on her back for more than 50 miles over mountainous terrain to the Kibuye Eye Clinic, hoping for a miracle.  Unfortunately, the cancer had progressed to the point that it was necessary to remove both of her eyes.

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Several months ago, this diagnosis would have also been a death sentence for Eliane even with aggressive surgical intervention.  While nearly 100% of RB cases in the US are curable, it is the complete opposite in Burundi because there is no chemotherapy available in the country.  They all die.  

After diagnosing a child with advanced RB nearly every week for years on end, John and his new colleague, Darrell, decided to take on the challenge of starting a chemotherapy center for these children.  After a trip to Rwanda to learn from a program there, the “RB team” (comprised of several doctors & a nurse from our team as well as a Burundian doctor) administered the first chemotherapy in Burundi last month.  

Sadly, many of these initial patients will likely still die because of the late stage of their cancer on arrival, but there is now hope and there is dignity even for those who do die.  Without chemo, the tumor grows into an excruciatingly painful, utterly horrifying mass that protrudes from the eye socket.  Our goal is that future patients will come earlier as word spreads and that down the road, more lives will be saved because of the availability of treatment.

Please pray for these children and their brave families as they fight this deadly disease and for the nurses and doctors overseeing their care in a resource-limited setting.  If you would like to support this new program, please click below.  For less than $100 you can pay for the cost of a round of chemotherapy.  This also includes all the family's costs (transport, food, etc).  For children with a chance at survival, 6 - 12 monthly rounds of treatment are required.  After years of sorrowful lament for these families, it is my joy to tell them there is now hope.  But, we need your help.  Most Burundians keep their families alive on less than $1 per day, so 6 - 12 rounds of chemo would bankrupt them.  With your help, we want to continue to offer this program at no cost to all who need it.

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Dr. Cropsey and Dr. Baskin are pictured here with their eyecare team in Burundi.