Last year, the Armenian EyeCare Project noticed an incredible need for cornea transplants among patients in Armenia. Because of this need, we began a special Cornea Transplant Program, asking donors to sponsor the surgery for those in Armenia who needed it — a cost of $800 for one procedure. The outpouring of support has been tremendous. Below are the stories of three Armenians who have received cornea transplant surgery because of your generous support. Thank you to each donor who has contributed to this program. These Armenians have sight because of you.
Zakar Mirzoyan, 72, Hovtashen
Zakar recalls the time in his life when he was an active and healthy man. “I worked as a hairdresser in our village for more than 15 years proudly serving my customers,” he says. “After work I would join my friends on the soccer field. I was a good player and even got to participate in local tournaments.”
But about eight years ago, Zakar felt as if his life had stopped. His vision began to deteriorate and he was diagnosed with keratoconus. Despite having three surgeries on his left eye, he could barely recognize silhouettes at a close distance — and his right eye had gone completely blind.
With a loving wife, four adult daughters and seven grandchildren, Zakar yearned to enjoy life with his family. Zakar and his wife’s pension was not enough to cover the cost of the cornea transplant he needed and he was reluctant to ask his children for help since they were barely making ends meet on their own.
Luckily, the AECP was able to help. With donations from our supporters, we were able to give Zakar the cornea transplant he needed. Since his surgery in January, Zakar is now able to see and fully enjoy time with his family.
“We are extremely grateful for such generous support,” Zakar’s wife said. “Vision has come back to my husband’s eye. Our blessings to the people who donated and have made my husband’s recovery possible.”
Gohar Markosyan, 56, Janfida
Picking cherries is the only source of income for Gohar and her family, but ironically, it was also the cause of Gohar’s vision problems.
Three years ago, while working in the garden, a small branch of cherry tree poked Gohar in the eye. Thinking nothing of it, she quickly rubbed her eye and continued to work. But after returning home, she had noticed blood inside the eye.
The next day, Gohar went to see a local ophthalmologist but since her condition was getting worse, she was referred to the Malayan Ophthalmological Center in Yerevan.
Gohar did what she could to pay for the surgeries — even selling the family cow to cover expenses — but since her injury required multiple transplants, she was unable to keep up. Fortunately, our donors came through and Gohar was able to undergo the three cornea transplants she needed to save her eye.
With the final transplant in February, Gohar can finally see clearly again and her doctor, Dr. Anna Hovakimyan, is happy with the results.
“I will be able to see again,” Gohar says excitedly. “I am very grateful to all the people who helped save my eye.”
Alvard Barkhudaryan, 68, Agarak
Alvard started to experience eye problems about five years ago. She was diagnosed with keratopathy, had scars on her cornea and held a high risk of corneal perforation in one eye.
She lived alone and her eye condition bothered her very much, but she couldn’t afford to get the surgery she needed.
“I actually couldn’t open my eye and sometimes I asked my sisters to help me with my daily chores…” she says. “To sweep my house or cook for me.”
But thanks to our generous donors, we were able to perform the cornea surgery to save Alvard’s eye and restore her sight.
“I was on the way to losing my eye,” Alvard says. “Without this surgery, I would have lost it. Now, I feel better and my vision is restoring continuously. Without the generosity of AECP donors, I could never afford this expensive treatment.”
For more stories on patients in Armenia who have received cornea transplants through our program, visit our other blogs here and here. If you are interested in contributing to the AECP’s Cornea Transplant Program and sponsoring a patient in Armenia to receive cornea transplant surgery, please contact us or donate.