First her kidneys failed, and then her eyesight: a story from the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation

Mai received free cataract surgery from the Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation

When 48-year-old Mai Khanal’s kidneys failed six years ago, doctors said that she would need to undergo regular dialysis. At that time, kidney failure patients in Nepal still had to pay for their dialysis treatment. For Mai, the monthly cost of US $250 was more than what her family would make in a month. Mai’s husband sold their only plot of land to cover the treatment expense.

In 2016 the government of Nepal started providing free dialysis treatments to patients suffering from kidney failure. Mai’s family was relieved. Unfortunately, by then the family had already exhausted all of their financial resources. When Mai began losing her sight to cataract blindness in 2020, her family couldn’t afford the surgery that was needed to cure her ensuing visual impairment.

Mai remembers her vision deteriorating by the day and along with it the added difficulties of living with blindness. “It was getting difficult for me to work in the kitchen, I wouldn’t be able to pour water in my cup, or do other simple tasks. I was becoming completely dependent upon my children” she says.

When Mai’s visual impairment became extremely severe in 2021, her case was referred to the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation — an alliance between philanthropist Tej Kohli and Nepal’s God of Sight Dr. Sanduk Ruit. The Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation combines Ruit’s technical expertise for delivering large-scale low-cost cataract surgeries with Kohli’s experience of funding grassroots projects worldwide.

Mai’s case was received on 27th June, 2021, after which a medical team of the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation conducted her cataract surgery. The surgery, which lasted 7 minutes and cost US $50, was paid for by the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation. After her surgery, her eye was patched up.

Mai undergoing surgery to remove her cataracts.

The next morning, Mai arrived early for her postoperative treatment — accompanied by her son and daughter. The doctor removed her patch, and conducted a small eye test. Mai could not believe that she could see clearly again. She thanked the Tej Kohli and Ruit Foundation for providing her with a second chance of sight.

Mai with her son and daughter.

The Tej Kohli & Ruit Foundation is working to screen 1,000,000 and to cure 300,000 people of cataract blindness in the world’s poorest communities by 2026.