After 76 years of searching, Vladimir’s dream of seeing his father’s gravesite came true with the help of AECP!
Vladimir Javadyan is a retired pilot with over 30 years of experience. Vladimir recalls always having a perfect 20/20 vision, which is a requirement for any pilot. But in 1997, one of his eyes suddenly went blind due to glaucoma. Several years ago, Vladimir completely lost vision in his other eye, too. Vladimir consulted with several doctors, who were unable to help him with anything but advice to get a corneal transplant. In Armenia, corneal transplants are being performed, but like in many countries it doesn’t meet the need and most patients cannot afford the cost of the surgery and treatment.
For about four years, Vladimir was completely blind, fully relying on his wife to take care of him. “I would hold his hand and move him from one place to another,” recalls Vladimir’s wife with tears in her eyes. During the time Vladimir went blind, a lot of important life events happened: his grandchildren were born, but sadly he was unable to see them.
Having lost his independence, Vladimir also gave up on his lifelong dream of finding his father’s gravesite. Vladimir’s father, an immigrant from Iran, fought in the World War II also as a pilot, and was tragically killed in combat in 1942. His family didn’t know where he was buried for decades until Vladimir’s son was able to locate his grandfather’s burial site. More than anything, Vladimir wanted to go see his father’s grave, but he couldn’t since he was blind. “I was stuck in the darkness of the night, feeling hopeless,” – said Vladimir.
Thankfully, Vladimir and his wife heard about the Armenian EyeCare Project (AECP) and were able to schedule an appointment with the physicians. Following series of examinations, Vladimir received the much-needed surgery on both eyes by the local doctor Anna Hovakimyan, Chief of the Corneal-Uveitis Clinic at the Malayan Ophthalmologic Center in Yerevan. Dr. Hovakimyan has been trained to perform penetrating keratoplasty, a complicated surgery to replace a patient’s diseased cornea, by US colleagues as part of the AECP’s commitment to create a sustainable eye care delivery model in the country. Since the AECP’s establishment in 1992, more than 75 U.S. physicians came to Armenia to exchange their experience and skills with the Armenian doctors.
Vladimir was able to get his sight restored thanks to the corneal transplant surgery. His first words after getting back home following the surgery were addressed to his wife: “I haven’t seen your face in four years,” – he said. Vladimir was also able to hug and see his children, grandchildren, and it was a celebration for the whole family!
Thanks to the surgery, Vladimir’s dream to find his father’s gravesite came true. Together with his two sons, Vadimir visited the gravesite and was able to read his father’s name etched on the gravestone. “My soul is at ease now and my heart is in peace,” – said Vladimir.
“If it wasn’t for the Armenian EyeCare Project and the trained local physicians, I would be facing blindness for the rest of my life,” – said Vladimir. “My deepest gratitude goes to all the doctors who helped me to see again!”
Patients like Vladimir, who have regained their sight, are eager to communicate with the world that was covered in darkness before. They feel empowered to take care of themselves and enjoy doing every daily task that people with no visual impairment might take for granted. Along with their families and friends, they rejoice, smile and continue to live a full life.