LDS Doctors Give the Gift of Sight

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“LDS Doctors Give the Gift of Sight,” Liahona, Oct. 2007, N6

LDS Doctors Give the Gift of Sight

Blendina Muca spent the early years of her life struggling with a medical condition known as strabismus, or crossed eyes. After many years of unsuccessful treatment in her native Albania, she found help from an American physician who visited her homeland on a humanitarian excursion.

“Since I was little I had crossed eyes,” Ms. Muca reported. “My father sent me for a visit to the doctor, who gave me some drops and glasses. … They didn’t correct my eyes—they became worse—but I always walked with hope they would be better.”

Despite her visual limitations, the young Albanian was able through her diligence to become a professional tailor, a career in which she excelled.

When Ms. Muca’s sister joined the Church, a door opened for the visually impaired young woman. Church humanitarian service missionaries, present at her sister’s baptism, invited Ms. Muca to visit an LDS-sponsored clinic staffed with member ophthalmologists from the United States.

Dr. Rick Olson, a pediatric ophthalmologist on staff at the University of Iowa, performed the surgery on Ms. Muca’s eyes. Prior to the surgery, the young patient, her sister, and friends united in prayer with Dr. Olson.

“The doctor asked God to make his hands as gold to fix my eyes,” Ms. Muca reported, “and He did. I knew God had made a miracle.”

This gift of sight—correcting visual impairments, donating equipment, and providing management support—is offered to developing countries under the auspices of Church Humanitarian Services.

Dr. George Pingree, a retired Salt Lake City ophthalmologist, chairs the worldwide vision initiative and represents more than 200 physicians who voluntarily participate in the program.

“Over 40 million people in the world are blind,” Dr. Pingree explained, “many with cataracts, glaucoma, or other visual problems that can be corrected.”

Church leaders and humanitarian missionaries determine specific needs in developing countries, explained Dean Walker, manager of major initiatives in Church Humanitarian Services.

“Requests are submitted, and then we pattern a project to meet the local needs,” Brother Walker added. “We are able to do 10 to 15 projects a year—projects that instruct health care workers in procedures and practices that result in vision improvements for many individuals.”

Ms. Muca sees life much differently following her successful surgery. She explained: “My wish now is to go to university and help those who are in need—to help people the same way God helped me. Miracles do happen.”