World Watches as Grandfather from Malawi has his Sight Restored LIVE Online

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Sightsavers launches its biggest ever appeal – A Million Miracles – to raise £30 million to provide one million sight-restoring surgeries for people living in developing countries

A blind man’s sight-restoring operation was broadcast live around the world at 1.30pm (BST) today from a hospital in Malawi.

The six minute cataract operation will mean 69-year-old Winesi March could see his baby grandson for the first time when his bandages are removed tomorrow on World Sight Day.

The live online broadcast was hosted by YouTuber Doug Armstrong who fielded questions from the global audience via a Google Hangout. Dr Gerald Msukwa, one of only a few ophthalmologists in Malawi, talked through the simple procedure which restores the sight of more than 20 million people around the world every year and is the most commonly performed surgery on the NHS.

Dr Msukwa said:

“I’m a doctor, not a movie star so there is some tension with the world watching but it’s nothing when I know that tomorrow my patient’s life will be utterly changed.

“Yesterday Winesi could not farm his land, see his family or walk to the market without the constant support of his dedicated wife. Tomorrow he tells me he will dance across the river by his home to work. The operation only costs £30 but will help him feed his family for years to come.”

Tomorrow’s second live broadcast will see the global audience join the team in Malawi for the life-changing moment when Winesi’s bandages are removed and he sees his 18-month-old grandson Luka for the first time.

In the UK more than 50 per cent of adults over the age of 65 have cataract, a condition that causes sight to become blurred and gradually lost.But the majority of the 20 million people blind from cataracts are living in the poorest parts of the world, often unable to access the straightforward surgery.

Winesi’s surgery is the first ‘miracle’ of Sightsavers’ biggest-ever fundraising appeal – A Million Miracles. The charity is aiming to raise £30 million to provide one million sight-restoring surgeries for people living in developing countries. All donations made by the UK public will be matched pound for pound by the UK government for the first three months of the appeal.

To watch the online surgery again go to www.millionmiracles.org.

And then watch LIVE as Winesi’s bandages are removed and he can see again visit the site on Thursday 9 October at 1.30pm.

Follow the story as it unfolds #SeeTheMiracle

About Sightsavers:

1.Sightsavers is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities.http://www.sightsavers.net

2.There are 39 million blind people in the world; 80% of all blindness can be prevented or cured.

3.In the six decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has:

  • supported over 483.4 million treatments for blinding and potentially blinding conditions.
  • carried out over 8.4 million operations to restore sight.
  • trained more than 0.5 million primary eye care workers.
  • carried out rehabilitation training for 149,000 blind or low vision beneficiaries.
  • supported 30,000 blind or low vision children to gain a school education.

 

4. Sightsavers’ A Million Miracles appeal launches in October 2014 to raise funds over the next three years to perform one million sight-restoring surgeries across Africa and Asia.

5. For as little as £30 Sightsavers can give someone their sight back through surgery. Until 31 December 2014, donations received from the UK public will be matched pound for pound by the UK government.

About UK Aid Match:

UK Aid Match was set up by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID)to give a boost to public support for charities working in the developing world. It doubles public donations to appeals run by British international development charities, in recognition of both the public’s generosity and the wide range of causes they support. For more information, seehttp://www.gov.uk/uk-aid-match.

For further press information, case studies or photos, please contact Rachel Heald in the Sightsavers press office on +44-01444-446754 or rheald@sightsavers.org

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