Nov 23, 2008 News
The USS Kearsarge sailed out of Guyana’s waters yesterday, but not before “opening” the eyes of many, including three-year-old Theresa Pisaud.
When the U.S naval warship arrived in Guyana – its last stop in a five-nation humanitarian mission across the Caribbean and Latin America – the medical team was just as determined and dedicated to make a difference in the lives of others here as they were four months earlier when the mission began.
As medical operations began November 9 in Mabaruma, physicians began conducting surgical screenings and determining which patients would be brought back to the Kearsarge for surgery. It was then that they met three-year-old Theresa Pisaud and knew they had to help.
“When Theresa was born, her eyelids were fused together only allowing her to see out of small breaks in the skin covering her eyes,” explained Cmdr. Brian Alexander, a Navy ophthalmologist. Theresa’s father, Lloyd Pisaud, had been in search of a normal life for Theresa.
“When she was two, we took her to Cuba and doctors looked at her and said she was too small for the anesthesia,” said Pisaud. “It was difficult to go all the way there and be disappointed.”
When the humanitarian/civic assistance mission Continuing Promise 2008 arrived in Guyana, Pisaud got his hopes up that maybe this time the doctors could help.
“I was shocked and excited to find out,” said Pisaud. “My older daughter called me and said she heard people were coming and they were going to be giving eye care.”
Pisaud took Theresa for the screening, and his prayers were answered. Little Theresa was approved for surgery.
Theresa and her dad were flown via helicopter to the ship on November 14 and a day later, she was in surgery.
“We brought her in for surgery and did a simple procedure to remove the skin that was attaching the eyelids,” said Alexander.
“This is like a couple other cases I’ve done, and even though it’s really simple, it’s life changing.”
Within a few hours, Theresa was wide awake with eyes wide open. For the first time in her life, she could see her father completely.
“It’s hard to put into words my feelings when she looked at me, and I was looking back at her eyes open for the first time,” said Pisaud.
“I am so proud. She doesn’t understand what this means now, but when she’s older she will know what these people did for her.”
After a day of recovery aboard the ship, Theresa and her father returned home to greet her family. It is the start of something new for all of them. “We’ve changed a little girl’s life,” said Alexander.
According to the U.S military, Kearsarge´s mission exemplifies the United States maritime strategy which emphasises deploying forces to build confidence and trust among nations through collective maritime security efforts that focus on common threats and mutual interests. Kearsarge was under the operational control of U.S. 4th Fleet.
U.S. 4th Fleet’s mission is to direct United States naval forces operating in the Caribbean, and Central and South American region and interact with partner nation navies to shape maritime environment.
The Caribbean Phase is the second of two HCA deployments to the Southern Command area of focus for 2008. The first CP deployment was conducted by USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the Pacific.
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