The Story of Bontu Temesgen

14-year-old Bontu Temesgen of Ethiopia goes from a world of darkness to 20/20 vision.

When Bontu Temesgen came into the evaluation room at a cataract campaign in Shambu, Ethiopia, she was unable to even find the chair in front of her. 

She had lost her sight 8 months beforehand and was forced to drop out of her 4th grade class. 

“I just hate to be led,” said Bontu. She said she just wanted to go back to school and to play with her siblings and friends.

The staff determined that Bontu had congenital cataracts, but were hesitant to operate. Typically, a patient this young needs to be operated on under general anesthesia, which is not available during outreach programs. Bontu would have to travel to either Aira or Addis for this service, both more than 350 kilometers away.

After talking with the young girl, however, Dr. Samuel found her to be extraordinarily cooperative and agreed to do the operation with local anesthesia.

The next morning the whole staff was very eager to see the outcome of the surgery. When Bontu’s patch was removed she gasped and muttered “I can see.” 

Her visual acuity test showed that her vision was nearly perfect (20/30). Bonita returned to the operating room to have the same operation on the second eye.

The following day, Bontu had a visual acuity test for both her eyes. The staff hoped that as the inflammation went down she would be left with perfect vision. She was. 

In just 48 hours, Bontu went from needing an aid at all times to having 20/20 vision in both eyes. It was a very emotional moment and a number of staff members welled up with joy. 

“Out of nearly 15,000 operations, this is the most satisfying case I’ve ever had," said Dr. Samuel. "It’s touching and I will always remember it.” 

Out of nearly 15,000 operations, this is the most satisfying case I’ve ever had."

– Dr. Samuel Bora