To prepare for this year’s ‘Miracles Day’ – the day we raise funds for life-changing eye surgeries – we sat down with Brekky duo Sam and Duncan, to hear just how they’ve been impacted by visiting CBM’s remote eye hospitals.
For Duncan, it wasn’t the many patients whose lives have been changed forever that left the biggest impression on him – although they were incredible.
In fact, it was one eye surgeon: a very humble, vibrant, slightly sassy, and ferociously hard working woman named Preena Brenner. Her attitude leaves most Aussies’ work ethic in the dust.
The moment she walked in the room, Duncan says, it was clear there was something different about her.
“It was 38 degrees, there was no air-conditioning, the power was cutting in and out, I was struggling with the heat and the food, I was depressed, I’d had no sleep – and I was struggling to connect,” he recalls.
“In walks Dr Brenner, and the entire room lit up.
“Nurses were laughing at her stories, she was yelling at people, they were running all over the place—and you clearly saw, in the way she was talking with the other staff, a passion and a fire.”
Intrigued, Duncan struck up a conversation with this clearly dedicated woman.
“I said, ‘Why do you do this, why are you so passionate about this?’ She said, “This surgery takes me eight minutes. But you Western doctors will spend an hour doing this surgery. I do about 70 of these a day.”
“I said, ‘Wow, so how many have you done? Five thousand?’
“She laughs at me and said ‘I’ve done 40,0000 of these surgeries!’
Duncan said he was amazed to hear someone still so passionate about their work, when they’ve already done so much of the same thing.
“She still had the same fire and passion, because she wants to make a difference,” he said. “That was the moment that stood out for me. It was a reminder that the right person, with the right power and passion and conviction, can impact [the same number of people as] the population of Port Macquarie. 40,000 lives changed, because of that one person.
“We were floored when we asked her, ‘Why wouldn’t you take a higher paying job in a fancier hospital?’
“Her reply was, ‘Money isn’t everything my friend, and every person on this planet has the right to clear vision. That is why serving in this hospital is so special.’”
Up Slippery Mud Tracks and Steep Stairs – While Blind
For Sam, it was a moment in Northern Vietnam in 2018, visiting a cataract patient’s home, that stands out the most.
“You had to walk down slippery mud tracks to get to the home; you had to walk up some very steep stairs to the house which is raised on stilts,” Sam said.
“I had enough trouble doing it with good eyesight let – alone imagining what it was like for someone like Lei (pictured), who lived in that house, to have to do that each and every day while blinded by cataracts. She just simply could not do it by herself until she got the gift of sight through simple cataract operation.
“And suddenly, things were so much easier for her, she didn’t need to be guided by her family members. She had more independence.”
If you, like the passionate surgeon Preena, believe that women like Lei in Northern Vietnam have the right to clear vision too, you can make a difference today – by supporting Hope 103.2 and CBM’s Miracles Day.