Aug 14, 2017 News
Paul Cottom knows the challenges of living in a world of darkness.
Now, Mr. Cottom, who is blind, is desperately trying to save his 16 year old daughter, Paula Cottom, from a similar fate.
The teen is completely blind in the right eye, and she may lose vision in her left if an emergency surgery is not done.
Mr. Cottom lost sight in his right eye 17 years ago. He also now has impaired vision in his left.
This happened when he underwent cataract surgery and a nerve was accidentally damaged.
Since then, the former hospital attendant has been living on public assistance which is $7,500 a month. He said that he also collects public assistance for his daughter.
He said that his daughter was not born with a problem in her eyes but it developed over time. He said that due to a build-up of pressure in a vein behind the left eye, the vessel burst, causing retinal detachment.
The 16 year old is a student of the St. Rose’s High School Unit for the Blind and also attends the Visually Impaired Resource Unit on Albert Street, Alberttown. She is a member of the GPHC’s Ophthalmology clinic.
Based on a letter dated July 19, 2017 signed by Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr. Shailendra Sugrim and Director of Medical and Professional Services at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, Paula was previously diagnosed with having ‘Right Eye – Absolute Eye with Complicated Cataract and Left Eye – Interior Retinal Detachment with macular involved and Developmental Cataract.”
The correspondence said that in April 2012, the 16 year old had Left Vitreo-retinal surgery in Trinidad and her cataract was removed, leaving her without the lens of that eye.
She returned to the clinic in November 2012 for follow-up and she was found to still have a persistent retinal detachment. Paula underwent further surgery then, and again in April 2013.
According to the document, since returning to Guyana the girl had also followed-up at GPHC’s clinic.
Based on information provided, vision in the child’s left eye remains 20/100, 20/100. However, her Intraocular pressure (IOP) which is the fluid pressure inside the eye kept climbing despite her being on maximum medical treatment.
Further, the document said that the IOP control to the left eye is not improving and can worsen the child’s vision. Dr. Sugrim recommended further vitreo-retinal evaluation for vitrectomy ( the surgical operation of removing the vitreous humour from the eyeball) and implantation of glaucoma valve in the middle layer of the three layers that comprise the eye. He noted that these services are not available in Guyana and would have to be sought overseas.
Mr. Cottom indicated that he has only managed to raise $30,000 towards the expenses for the surgery to be done in Trinidad. He said that in total, he needs to acquire $1.5M to take care of medical and other expenses while overseas.
He said that if his daughter gets to undergo the surgery it should fix the problem “by the grace of God.”
Paula, he says, aspires to be a lawyer but her current condition may prevent her from achieving her dreams.
Asked what the experience has been like since 2012 to date, Mr. Cottom said: “I does feel it because I can’t do certain things and she can’t do certain things on she own as she would want to do as a child. Any child would want to move about and see people and see things. She can’t do everything and don’t go out certain places in the night. She goes to church and somebody gotta walk with her.”
The man is so desperate to help his daughter that he refused to take a picture with her saying, “This isn’t about me, this is about her. She needs the help.”
Persons that want to assist Paula Cottom to have her much needed eye surgery can contact her father on 692-5223, 617-8471 or 231-2361. Persons can also make deposits into Republic Bank account: 244-4065.
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