The world shines bright now for 18 year old Indian athlete Mampi Das, who completed a successful cornea transplant on 5 May, 2013, an outcome from a Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes screening in the state of Tripura, northeast of India.
This is certainly one of the biggest accomplishments of the Special Olympics Bharat (India) program, organized by its Tripura State chapter and supported by Abhoy Mission, an NGO serving people with disabilities, orphans, disadvantaged women, and senior citizens, through centers and programs. It collaborates with Special Olympics Bharat on Coaching Camps, offering sports opportunities to Abhoy’s residents.
Mampi has multiple disabilities, including intellectual disability, mixed deafness and cornea dystrophy in both eyes. Orphaned at an early age, she stays at the home managed by Abhoy Mission, and goes to special school. The school takes effort to improve Mampi’s communication skills – she receives regular training from experts trained from the Helen Keller institute. She is screened quarterly to monitor her motor and cognitive development. She has supportive friends in the orphanage, always ready to help her with anything she needs.
Mampi joined the Tripura State Chapter of Special Olympics Bharat in 2007, participating in National Coaching Camps for athletics in held in Calcutta, Guwahati, Tripura. Bharat athletes participate at these camps, after competing in their school, local, district, state level competitions. In the last six years, there’s been a gradual change to her personality. Her coach, Kanta deb Sarkar, notes that Mampi has become more articulate, a change from her previous withdrawn and quiet personality. The training also improves her comprehension and motor skills, making it easier for Mampi to interact with her friends.
At an Opening Eyes Camp held at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital Complex, Agartala in April this year, Mampi took a vision test. The eye specialist attending to Mampi expressed hope of recovering her vision through a cornea transplant, starting with her right eye. With expenses borne by the Abhoy Mission, Mampi went through the surgery, and was placed under observation in the hospital for a month.
This operation was successful. Mampi could see clearly with her right eye. Upon regaining her sight, her excitement knew no bounds. Mampi was keen to study, and wanted to work as much as possible, and volunteered for more tasks in the orphanage, like food distribution. She even wanted to administer her medication herself!
Her post surgery checkups showed promise, apart from overexertion – there was too much pressure that made her eyes slightly weak – and she was advised with strict bed rest.
It will be some time before Mampi can be assessed for a second operation on her left eye, but for now, Mampi is enjoying the present, gifted with a wonderful change in her life.