Through a state-of-the-art microscope provided by the Church, a surgeon gazed steadily at a cloudy cataract threatening an impoverished woman’s eyesight in October during President Russell M. Nelson’s visit to Paraguay.
Cautiously, Dr. Miguel Scalamogna began to make skillful, tiny, meticulous incisions in her eye. One floor below a loud throng of Paraguayans filled the lobby and hallway of Fundación Visión, one of the Church’s charitable partners. Many of the people were working their way through the process of applying for a $7 eye exam they could not afford.
Others were somewhere on a journey from that exam to the quiet operating room upstairs and the microscope provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that plays a vital role in about half of all cataract surgeries in this nation of 6.9 million people.
“There’s no room for error,” President Nelson, himself a retired, world-renowned heart surgeon, said when told about the procedure. “The doctor must be very precise.”
Scalamogna broke up the woman’s cloudy lens, painstakingly removed the pieces from her eye, and placed an artificial lens in its place behind her iris and pupil.
As he cauterized the incisions, wisps of smoke rose above the woman’s face. To the surgeon’s right, another doctor began the same procedure on an older man. He peered through a second Zeiss microscope, one of several “machines provided by the Mormons,” Jorge Medina, a registered nurse, said in Spanish.
“Without them, we cannot perform this surgery,” he said.
Outside, the building’s cornerstone bore an inscription: “I was blind, now I see.”
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