Lolongui: From fear to joy
While the thought of choosing continual pain and diminishing sight over a straightforward operation may seem incomprehensible, for many people it can be a case of better the devil you know.
Under an accelerated outreach model in Kenya, a counsellor and surgeon screen potential patients for trachoma trichiasis; going door-to-door, offering on-the-spot counselling and, in some cases, immediate surgery. But when the team encountered Lolongui, a 50-year-old man whose severe trachoma endangered his remaining sight, he refused the treatment and became extremely distressed.
Recognising that Lolongui was unlikely to be persuaded by their usual approach, the team asked a respected local elder to accompany them to make the case for surgery. After lengthy negotiations, Lolongui agreed to have the operation on one eye only.
When the surgical team visited Lolongui the following morning his outlook had changed completely. Pain-free and able to see with the treated eye for the first time in years, he wouldn’t wait any longer for surgery on the second eye. Having hoped to operate that afternoon, the team was forced to fit the ecstatic Lolongui in for immediate treatment. The reluctant patient has been so delighted by the results that Community Health Volunteers are considering using him to promote eye health!