Romac arranges major eye surgery for baby Rosalia

Romac in Action

A one month old baby named Rosalia came to from Fiji to Christchurch  Hospital for eye surgery. An early Saturday morning phone call from DG Sarita McLean alerted us to the arrival (that afternoon) of a baby and her Mother from Fiji. Baby Rosalia, just one month old, her tiny face covered with a large eye bandage, was coming to Christchurch for major eye surgery and a diagnosis of the problem. A few phone calls were made and the Rotary Club of Cashmere very quickly accepted, on behalf of Romac, the responsibility of the care of mother and baby during their time in Christchurch. Rosalia and her mother Veronica would be staying at Ronald McDonald House. It was lovely to have DG Sarita and past DG Ari and his wife at the airport to welcome them and very quickly we were off to Ronald McDonald house were we felt the extremely warm welcome once again. Straight away we were off to CHOC ( Children’s Haematology and Oncology Centre) at Christchurch Hospital for the first of many appointments.

Rosalia had been born on the second largest island Vanua  Levu, at the local Labasa Hospital. At birth it was noted that one eye was slightly protruding and over the next few weeks this worsened until the eye was almost completely outside its orbit. Mother and baby were transferred to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva where it was decided that they needed to travel to either Australia or New Zealand. Christchurch Hospital was chosen because of the twinning arrangement which exists between Suva and Christchurch Hospitals.

We walked to the hospital daily to support Veronika throughout the many appointments with specialist doctors and nurses and the daily dressing changes of the eye. In preparation for surgery a CT scan and an MRI were performed. Finally, operation day arrived, a huge day for us all ! Five surgeons operated for four hours and this was followed by time in the recovery area, one night in ICU and the following night as an inpatient in CHOC. Rosalia made a remarkable recovery and was discharged  to RMcDH with minimal medication of paracetamol and an  antibiotic eye cream to smear over the  now stitched closed eyelid. The operation which was initially intended to be biopsy only became major surgery when it was discovered that what was thought to be a tumour was “ blood vessels behind the eyeball behaving badly”. The surgeons were unanimous in that her eye could not be saved and was removed. However, the wonderful news came several days later when the biopsy results declared “ that no cancer had been found”. Rosalia and Veronica were now able to return to Labasa to a loving husband and two boys aged four and two, however there were many difficulties to overcome before tickets were finally issued less than twenty four hours before their flight departed. Their visas were due to expire in two days time hence our concerns for re-entry to New Zealand if they are required to return to Christchurch for a small procedure that may not be able to be done at the Suva Hospital. However all ended well, so with tears in our eyes, we, along with DG Sarita and Past DG Liz Courtney put a very excited , happy mother and her  much loved baby on the flight to Nadi and home to Labasa the next day.

These were four weeks that we will treasure for ever with so many loving memories .We look forward to their return  next year for a minor procedure to pave the way for an artificial eye in the future.

Diane and Murray Pearce



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