Surgery restores Philani’s vision
Gift from Ster-Kinekor
IN CELEBRATING World Sight Day, SterKinekor, in partnership with the Department of Health, have been part of changing young lives through their Vision Mission.
One of the beneficiaries of this programme was Philani Twala, 21, of Katlehong in Ekurhuleni.
Twala was born with his sight, but at the age of 10 he was diagnosed with keratoconus, which is a degenerative disease of the cornea.
It results in a thin and weak cornea and affects one’s vision, with the patient eventually requiring a cornea transplant.
Twala had a weak cornea and minor trauma to his eye at school when he was eight. This resulted in a tear in the cornea which impaired his vision.
He is the youngest of five children and was raised by his mother Beatrice, a domestic worker.
Philani received the gift of sight through SterKinekor’s corporate social investment flagship programme Vision Mission following an initiative in which cinema patrons donated R2.50, which assisted towards the cost of his operation.
“I wasn’t born blind; I was born with sight, but as time went on my sight was affected.”
Twala said he had the opportunity to have surgery sponsored by the cinema brand. And Dr Akiel Asvat, an ophthalmologist, performed his second corneal transplant pro bono in 2015. This year, Twala is able to write matric. Due to the challenges experienced with impaired vision while growing up, he struggled at school. His wish was to complete his high school education and further his studies in sound engineering.
Through perseverance and determination, he is now on the brink of a bright future.
“I love sound. When my sight was impaired, I would always listen to music. I was able to live with sound. There were a lot of things I couldn’t do on my own, but I was able to live with sound,” he said.
The corrective surgery gave him back his confidence and he developed a positive outlook.
“I am always happy; being angry wasn’t an option,” he said. He has encouraged others who are experiencing similar difficulties with their vision not to lose hope and to be patient.
“I got support from my family and friends every step of the way,” he said.
Diagnosed with degenerative disease of the cornea at 10