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


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