Edmonton retina specialist Dr. Matthew Tennant and a medical team from Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital help restore vision for those crippled by blindness in Cameroon. Below is a recount of the trip which is featured on the Alberta Medicial Association website at: https://www.albertadoctors.org/advocating/many-hands/seeing-success
Here in Edmonton I may see one or two very complex cases each year...But in Cameroon every single case was difficult and complex.
Although a diagnosis or retinal disease is always frightening, here in Canada it can usually be treated quickly. But in developing nations like Cameroon, where there are few specialists and limited medical facilities, the diagnosis often means permanent blindness.
That’s what motivated a medical team from Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital to travel to Mutengene, Cameroon, in early April to help save and restore sight for local patients.
“Here in Edmonton I may see one or two very complex cases each year,” explains Dr. Matthew T. Tennant, an Edmonton retinal specialist, surgeon and associate clinical professor at the University of Alberta. “But in Cameroon every single case was difficult and complex.”
He notes that many patients had been living with retinal detachments for a number of years, and one patient in particular, who hadn’t been able to see since age five, had her sight restored by the team at age 25.
During their four days in surgery the team completed 32 separate complex surgeries dealing with retinal detachments. Although it was a daunting schedule, Dr. Tennant found the hardest part was not being able to accommodate everyone. “People came from a long way away and were very patient in waiting to be seen.”
The trip was prompted by an invitation from a former retina fellow at the University of Alberta who returned to Cameroon. “It was a great experience and something I’d love to do again, especially if we can travel as a team.
Working together, with the equipment we were able to bring, it was literally like working here at home. And being able to do what we do for people who would never have access to this kind of care is pretty incredible.”