Sight Saving for Babies—Meet Some Terrific Triplets

Two years ago, we had the pleasure of meeting an amazing set of triplet girls and their incredible mom, Elisa. Today, they are happy and healthy—but that wasn’t always the case. We’ve been eager to see how they’ve been doing, so we caught up with them recently in their home country of Peru!

Healthy, Happy Triplets

The triplets—Ester, Sara, and Ruth—were welcomed into the world at an Orbis partner hospital called Santa Rosa in 2019. Now, they are rambunctious and playful two-year-olds, each with her own distinct personality. Sara is the happy one, Ester is the curious one, and Ruth is the independent one. While they may be different, they are all extremely adorable!

Soon after they were born, however, Elisa learned that her premature triplets were at risk for a condition called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). ROP is a condition that causes abnormal blood vessels to grow in the retina, causing it to detach from the back of the eye.

Without proper treatment, ROP will lead to blindness. In fact, the condition is the leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide.

The triplets have grown since we first met them

Saving Babies’ Sight Around the World

ROP is a growing concern in countries like Peru, Vietnam, and Mongolia where screening and treatment are often unavailable. In places like the U.S., however, screening and treatment for ROP are routine and very effective.

Until recently, premature babies had a low survival rate in many countries Orbis works in, so there had been no need for doctors to learn how to prevent and treat ROP. Now, improved neonatal care is saving lives—a wonderful achievement that brings about a new problem: increased rates of ROP.

Orbis Supporters Fight Against Blindness

Thanks to the unparalleled generosity of our supporters, Orbis is able to work with local partners in these countries to ensure that babies get the screening and treatment they need to prevent a lifetime of blindness.

One such supporter is Mrs. Leslys Vedder, whose late husband Jim suffered from visual impairment due to a childhood accident. To keep her husband’s memory alive, Leslys decided to continue Jim’s dedication to helping children by making ROP screening and treatment possible in Peru.

Mrs. Leslys Vedder is one of our supporters

Parents of premature babies, like Elisa, are already dealing with immense worries about their babies’ futures. They couldn’t be more grateful that ROP screening and treatment is more readily available thanks to our generous supporters, like Mrs. Vedder.

Swift Screening

Approximately 8,200 newborns are at risk of developing ROP each year in Peru, and cases are on the rise. This is especially concerning because ROP is irreversible—if we don’t act quickly, babies will lose their sight for life.

Thanks to Mrs. Vedder and other caring supporters, ROP screening is available through Orbis’s partners, like Santa Rosa Hospital where Sara, Ruth, and Ester were born.

The day after they were born, a doctor at a nearby Orbis partner facility, Dr. Luz Gordillo screened the girls for ROP. Dr. Gordillo has dedicated her life to treating babies for ROP, ensuring that more families in Peru can live happy and healthy lives.

The premature triplets following their treatment when they were little babies

When we found out about the evaluations of the babies, we were happy because the doctors at [our local hospital at home] had never said anything about their eyesight. When they gave us the news that there was a doctor who was coming to check them, we said ‘how great!’” —Elisa

Ester showed no signs of ROP, while Sara was diagnosed with a stage one case that cleared up on its own. Ruth, however, had a more advanced stage of ROP. Without immediate treatment, she would lose her sight.

Dr. Gordillo performed a laser treatment on both of Ruth’s eyes. Little Ruth had bandages over her eyes until the next day, but when Dr. Gordillo removed them, she was happy to report that the treatment had been successful!

Parents like Elisa are so thankful and relieved that ROP screening and treatment is available to their babies born prematurely. Premature births already cause unimaginable worry, not to mention the stress parents feel when they find out their babies could lose their sight permanently.

The sight-saving care Orbis donors make possible lifts an extraordinary burden for these families. Elisa and her three daughters couldn’t be more grateful for supporters like Mrs. Vedder—and neither could we!

A Support System for the Girls

Since Ruth’s surgery, Elisa has been taking her to see Dr. Gordillo for follow-up eye care every six months. All three girls need regular check-ups as well. Elisa travels back to Santa Rosa—a three-hour trip—to get her daughters the care they need.

The last year has been especially challenging as the COVID-19 pandemic caused lockdowns and limited availability for routine eye care appointments. Elisa and her family had to move away temporarily—even further away from Santa Rosa.

“The pandemic was something that no one expected and honestly it locked us down at home, all of us, and we were worried because of the girls,” says Elisa. Luckily, Elisa’s support system made all the difference, with her family often pitching in to help take care of the girls.

Celebrating Special Moments

One of the reasons Elisa wanted to make sure Ruth’s sight was saved is so she could experience special family moments like birthdays. Elisa was devastated when she couldn’t host a party for the triplets’ first birthday due to the pandemic, but made up for it this year.

“This year, they turned two years old and thank God, we could do this with the support of my sister, my family, everyone. Everyone chipped in and we could celebrate their birthday and as they were a bit bigger then, they could enjoy it.” —Elisa

Despite challenges brought on by the pandemic, Ruth, Sara, and Ester are growing, learning, and playing every day—a dream come true for Elisa. Now that her daughters have healthy sight, Elisa has high hopes for their futures.

“As a mother, I would like my sons to be professionals and my girls to be professionals too. I hope my girls can succeed,” she says.

With your support—and Mrs. Vedder’s generous offer to double your gift—we know little girls like Ruth, Sara, and Ester can succeed no matter what they do!

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