Life

By Sarah Francis

A woman with a disfiguring eye tumour will get her sight back thanks to a Good Samaritan surgeon.

Eye surgeon Raf Ghabrial, 52, discovered Fitiria Maduwu, 41, living in extreme pain and isolation in Nias, Indonesia in October.

The ophthalmologist from Sydney, Australia met with the mum of five and vowed to do his best to stop her from going blind.

PIC BY GHABRIAL / CATERS NEWS

Fitiria’s family had spent their life savings seeking help for her protruding eye with no avail.

But now the kind hearted medic will fly Fitiria to Australia to perform the complicated surgery for free.

Raf from Sydney said: “It was evident from the first viewing that Fitiria’s situation was very advanced and severe.

“She had with her a single scan which was taken in Medan – a 20 hour journey over land.

“Fitiria could not be treated by the doctors there and has spent her entire family savings to date seeking treatment, to no avail.

PIC BY GHABRIAL / CATERS NEWS

“I assessed the scan and realised that she could – while being extraordinarily advanced – be operated on in Sydney.”

Raf, who has practice medicine for 19 years, has been surfing in remote Indonesia since 1985.

During his last surf trip Raf was told about Fitiria’s plight and felt compelled to help the family.

He said:  “I was sitting with an Australian named Matthew Sharland who described his horror at seeing a local villager with ‘her eye pushed forward as if on a stalk.’

“I asked him to describe the situation further and explained that by sheer coincidence, this was exactly my medical specialty.

“Within a day, he had arranged for me to visit her at home with another Australian ex-pat named Mark Flint who has lived locally for 30 years.

“Matthew’s words resounded constantly in my head, ‘no one should have to live like that’.

“At that stage Matthew and his wife Sharon pledged with me that we would do something to help this poor lady.”

PIC BY GHABRIAL / CATERS NEWS

Raf explained the desperate nature of Fitiria situation – which he said could turn the mum blind within years.

Raf said: “Nias is an extremely remote jungle island and requires three separate flights, plus overland driving to access; it is one generation from severe malaria and two generations from headhunting/cannibalism.

“Fitiria has a husband and five school age children, she currently works in basic farming, as does her husband.

“They live in a small home that is 5×5 metres with an outdoor kitchen.  The family’s total earnings are €50 a month.

“She cannot work and is proving quite a burden on the family.

“She is in constant pain and only has a small amount of vision on this side.

“However, with this funding she considers that her and her family’s prayers have been answered.”

Raf hopes the surgery to remove the tumour will improve her comfort and appearance and hopefully restore her vision.

Funds from Go Fund Me will go to travel, accommodation and additional hospital expenses for Fitiria and a carer.