February 17, 2023

The Jagal Foundation partners Eye Bank to restore Habeeb’s sight

<strong>The Jagal Foundation partners Eye Bank to restore Habeeb’s sight</strong>

… Donates N1.45m to facilitate cornea transplant surgery

By Gabriel Olawale 

The Jagal Foundation, in partnership with the Eye Bank for Restoring Sight Nigeria, has teamed up to rescue Habeeb Saheed, an 11-year-old boy with visual impairment.

Habeeb, an intelligent Primary 6 pupil of the St. Marries Foundation, Ikotun, Lagos has a great potential to succeed in life, but for his eyesight challenge.

An attack of measles at the age of 2 took its toll on him. Before the incident, Habeeb could see clearly, but at the moment, he has practically lost sight in both eyes.

The Medical Director of Eye Bank for Restoring Sight, Nigeria, Dr. Mosunmade Faderin said that Habeeb was referred by the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At that time, we observed that Habeeb required cornea surgery, which cost about one million naira then. 

“But his parents were unable to raise the money. Worse still, the COVID-19 business and movement restrictions didn’t help his situation, as we were unable to solicit assistance for him to undergo the surgery.

“Sometime late last year, we approached The Jagal Foundation to help us rescue some of the visually impaired patients that require cornea surgery, and they decided to take up Habeeb’s case.”

Faderin explained that in an ideal situation, they should have cornea at their centres but lamented that it was not the case because Nigerians are not donating, while the government is also not helping the matter.

 “Cornea is the clear tissue covering the front of the eye and it is taken after death, not when the person is alive. It can be harvested within 24 hours after a person dies before it dissolves. After harvesting, it will not show that anything has been taken from the eye. But our people are not aware of the great benefit of this intervention to mankind.

“Because people are not donating, we have to source from abroad, and the cost of transportation and other factors make the price to go up. Ordinarily, if Nigerians start donating, the logistical cost will be drastically reduced.

She hinted that Nigeria needs legislation that will encourage cornea donation. “The National Health Act, which was signed into law by President Jonathan in 2014, has not yet been fully implemented. If implemented, there are provisions for people to donate not just tissue from the eye but other things.”

The Coordinator, The Jagal Foundation, Funmilayo Shokunbi said the Foundation was involved in charity across different aspects of human development.

“We focus on women’s and youth empowerment, education, and health outreach. Under our health programme, we are here today to support a child that we believe is one of the future leaders of our country. At the Jagal Foundation, our programmes are run with the support of our subsidiaries.  “What we do basically is put smiles on the faces of people in our environment and sustain it. We got to know about Habeeb’s predicament through the Eye Foundation and we decided to cover the cost of his cornea surgery with the sum of N1,450, 000 while another N50,000 also went into the Eye Foundation’s account in case of any other expenses. With this gesture, we are very optimistic that his hope will come alive.”

Shokunbi  said that the Foundation does support patients at government hospitals who cannot pay their bills, people who need surgery support like we are doing today. We also help in the area of abandoned patients at the hospitals.

“During COVID-19, we supported the Lagos State government in setting up the Eti-Osa Isolation Centre. Currently, 20 students are on our scholarship scheme at the Federal Nigeria Society for the Blind, Lagos.”