A CHARITY worker who survived a rare form of eye cancer is helping children in Kenya battle the same disease.
Abby White, 32, lost the sight in one eye after beating retinoblastoma, but her father was forced to have both eyes removed when he was diagnosed in Kenya in 1946.
Now Ms. White, chief executive of Iffley charity Daisy’s Eye Cancer Care, is part of a group taking a new online retinal camera to the African country to revolutionize treatment for children.
Daisy’s helped raise £80,000 for the device, called a Retcam Shuffle, in partnership with sight charity Orbis International.
Ms White,of Boundary Brook Road, east Oxford, flies out on Monday and will present the Retcam Shuffle to doctors in Nairobi next Tuesday.
She said: “It is a very personal thing for me. My father had to have both his eyes removed because it was the only medical option at the time. It can sometimes be hereditary, there is a chance my children may be born with it.
“I managed to retain my sight because of the advances in medicine, and I now want to help those suffering from it in Kenya.
“They are currently laying fibre optic cables across the country. When this is done our doctors will be able to observe operations and offer guidance from anywhere in the world.”
The charity says it will enable online consultation with experts around the world and should improve the outlook for children who have traditionally faced complete blindness through retinoblastoma, and even death.
Retinoblastoma is a rare, fast growing cancer that forms in the child’s retina before birth and can affect one or both eyes. Ninety-two per cent of affected children live in developing countries.
The global survival rate is below 20 percent, compared to 98 percent in the UK.
The camera produces high-resolution images of a diseased retina, allowing doctors to treat very small tumours.
Charity patron Dr. Manoj Parulekar, a consultant pediatric ophthalmologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said: “The Retcam is an invaluable tool, not only for monitoring treatment but also as a teaching tool.
“Training ophthalmologists in remote parts of developing countries to recognise the condition early will aid early diagnosis, which will eventually translate into improved outcomes for retinoblastoma children in Africa.”
Dr. Kahaki Kimani, retinoblastoma consultant at Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital, said: “We are very excited about the opportunities this camera will bring to our medical team and patients.
“The combination of poverty and retinoblastoma is devastating, but we will finally be able to offer real hope of saving vision.”