* Warning: this video contains footage of eye surgery. *
Seventy-six year old potato farmer Bartolo, has had two corneal transplants. An accident while he was farming caused his own cornea to warp so badly that his sight had degenerated to a stage where prescription glasses or contact lenses would no longer help him to see clearly or carry out the daily tasks of running his farm and maintain his livelihood.
Eye surgeon Mr Laurie Sullivan has performed both transplant operations on Bartolo.
“Without cornea donors, we can’t help these patients. Before corneal transplants, people would put up with blindness and sore eyes. Sometimes if their eyes were terribly painful they had their eyes removed,” Mr Sullivan said.
“The most common condition I perform grafts for these days is kerataconus which is a condition where young people’s corneas warp out of shape and they get extremely blurry vision,” he said.
Mr Sullivan is one of six surgeons in Melbourne who performs corneal transplants. Between them they will perform about 40 corneal transplants each year.
“It’s absolutely vital,” he said. “I mean, talk to the patients. They are so grateful when they receive this gift from families, or rather, from people who have made their wishes known.”
Bartolo is incredibly grateful to his donor and their family. If they were here I would hug, I would kiss so much,” he said.