Give the gift of sight

2016-06-21 06:00
Riyaaz Carollisen (15)

Riyaaz Carollisen (15)

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He is only 15 years old and needs R35 000 to help him see better.

Riyaaz Carollisen (15) from Hanover Park and currently a pupil at Batavia Special Needs School in Claremont, lost 90% vision in his right eye during last year.

The Newfields Primary School alumni teen lost vision in his eye due to sever scarring and irregularity of his cornea and no glasses or contact lenses can re-establish vision in the said eye, according to Carollisen’s doctor, Michael Attenborough.

As a plea to the public to help Carolissen save his sight, his primary school educator Cynthia Sherry urges organisations and businesses to help Carolissen raise the money to have his cornea transplant done at the cost of R35 000.

“(Riyaaz) was a Grade 7 pupil in my class during 2014. It goes without saying that I am gravely concerned about his future with regard to his deteriorating eyesight. He has been an extremely hardworking pupil in my class and has definitely shown amazing potential for a promising future,” Sherry says.

She adds due to his eye condition his “school work has suffered tremendously under the strain of having to cope with an extremely heavy workload in Grade 7”.

“Although he was always struggling he was always attentive in lessons and always tried his level best to succeed academically,” she says.

Attenborough says the condition has “thankfully” not spread to his left eye.

“The only course of action is to perform a corneal transplant. This requires a donor cornea which, in our situation in South Africa, needs to be imported from the United States at a high cost,” Attenborough explains.

The R35 000 excludes hospital care fees.
Attenborough says Carollisen has been undergoing corneal collagen cross-linking during the past few weeks to stabilise his condition.
“He will still need a prescription of hard contact lenses for the left eye to get him back to a functional level,” he says.

Riyaaz’s mother, Shaqeelah, says her son was taken to hospital at a very young age.
“I noticed something was wrong when Riyaaz was about five years old. He wasn’t able to look into bright light or even when we were in the car and the sun reflected off the windscreen Riyaaz would hang his head down low to avoid the sharp sunlight,” Shaqeelah explains.

The single mother from Hanover Park says after taking her son to an optometrist to have his eyes checked, he was admitted to Red Cross Hospital.
“He was treated at Red Cross Hospital since he was six years old. But all the time he was there, he was treated for allergy eyes and we only discovered this after one day speaking to a specialist who was at the hospital,” she says.

Shaqeelah says the specialist referred them to an eye clinic where tests were done and it was found that Riyaaz had keratoconus.
“I was so stunned when we got the news because I never knew it was that serious. The entire time he was being treated for allergy eyes and I was taking him to hospital every third month to get him his medical supplies and I thought this was all I could do to help my son but then we found out that it was more serious and I was just thrown,” she says.

Shaqeelah says she is “blessed enough to work for good people”.
“Every time I have to attend a doctors appointment I let my boss know and she is okay with me not coming in for that day.
“She has even assisted me to such a wonderful extent that she has added to helping me find a cornea expert doctor (Attenborough), she paid for his first cornea operation that cost R18 000.

“But for his transplant to be done I will need to do fundraising to make this possible. I will probably need to raise double the operation fees if I include his hospital fees which will total at about R70 000,” she says.
“All I want is for my son to have a chance at keeping his eyesight. He is so young and is such a talented soccer player.
“It’s amazing how he can’t see far when looking at a book or chalkboard and the TV but when he is on the field he can see that ball,” she laughs.

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