The Bare­foot Sur­geon

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - REAL LIFE - by Ali Grip­per, Allen & Un­win

As a seven-year-old, San­duk Ruit was taken by his fa­ther from his iso­lated Nepalese vil­lage to a board­ing school in Dar­jeel­ing. His par­ents were not well off, but their son showed a tenac­ity and in­tel­li­gence that his fa­ther was de­ter­mined would not be wasted. Ruit went on to be­come one of the world’s great­est eye sur­geons, with the po­ten­tial for enor­mous wealth and fame. But he chose a dif­fer­ent path, one that has given many peo­ple a sec­ond chance at life. De­vis­ing an in­ge­nious sur­gi­cal tech­nique and pro­ce­dure, he rev­o­lu­tionised cataract surgery, es­pe­cially in the world’s poor­est ar­eas. His tech­nique means that those who have had to be led or car­ried by loved ones to his re­mote mo­bile surg­eries walk away within a few days, re­stored to in­de­pen­dence and a mean­ing­ful life. In Kath­mandu, Ruit in­sti­gated the build­ing of the world-lead­ing Til­ganga In­sti­tute of Oph­thal­mol­ogy, which man­u­fac­tures the tiny lenses needed for cataract surgery, as well as per­form­ing op­er­a­tions and train­ing sur­geons from many coun­tries. Ruit’s firm friend and col­league Fred Hol­lows – whose name and work are fa­mil­iar to many New Zealan­ders – wrote, “If I’ve done one thing in life I’m proud of, it’s launch­ing Ruit into the world.” Ali Grip­per worked closely with Ruit for three years to write his life story – the re­sult is this in­spir­ing book.

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