GSN helps Limpopo, South Africa
By sharing the Gift of Sight with our global partners, the Alabama Eye Bank has had the opportunity to make a difference to the visually impaired around the world. We recently received a request for corneal tissue from Dr. Frits Stegmann. Dr. Stegmann has been working in the South African province of Limpopo as an ophthalmologist for the last 20 years. Limpopo borders Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The FH Odendaal Hospital where he practices serves a population of 5.4 million people. He has been the only ophthalmologist to perform corneal transplant surgery there for the last five years.
Through the generosity of tissue donated in Alabama, a 14 year-old with severe keratoconus has a chance to see the world around her. Likewise, another patient suffering with a corneal melt of the cornea caused by bacterial keratitis can now see again.
Limpopo is the poorest province per capita in South Africa. Most of the patients Dr. Stegmann sees are awaiting corneal grafts due to scars from corneal ulcers and severe keratoconus. Corneal tissue is difficult to obtain in South Africa and even more so in Limpopo. “It is a privilege to work in this community. The people are very poor, but have an amazing positive attitude and are very appreciative,” said Dr. Stegmann. South Africa is one of 54 countries that AEB has had the privilege of providing tissue for sight restoring surgery. We are proud of the impact we are having on our local, national and international communities.