By Laura McLean
A lecturer from Murdoch University is on a mission to help her student get his vision back.
Elvis Wagi is a father of four on a scholarship from Papua New Guinea. He noticed his vision was failing, but couldn’t find the money to get it checked.
“After I came to Australia, my right side [of vision] was getting blurry. I thought that was normal for everyone, so I kept putting it off and thinking ‘maybe next year’.”
Elvis was taken to the ophthalmologist by his internship supervisor. Shortly after, Murdoch lecturer Jean Wootton, was told the results.
“His internship supervisor called me and said ‘we haven’t explained the results to Elvis yet, but the ophthalmologist has confirmed he is legally blind in one of his eyes’,” said Wootton.
She was told without cataract surgery, Elvis would become blind.
“We got in contact with the hospital immediately and there just happened to be a spot for the upcoming Tuesday, the 21st of May.”
Cataract surgery is a common procedure in Australia. Over the past 12 months, 743,000 people have been affected by the condition. But in Papua New Guinea, treatment isn’t as accessible.
“When I asked Elvis why he hadn’t had the tests done in PNG, he said he is over an hour and a half from the nearest ophthalmologist,” said Wootton.
But the surgery doesn’t come cheap. It’s estimated over $4000 will be needed to cover the costs of the procedure and the follow-ups.
Luckily for Elvis, Wootton’s fellow academics at Murdoch have been more than willing to help take the pressure off.
“The academics have been brilliant. One of my colleagues donated $500. I couldn’t believe it!”
“Some of the names donating to the gofundme I don’t even recognise. But it’s so nice to see so many people care,” she said.
You can help Elvis and Jean cover the cost of his surgery here.