He does not know why his mother left him.
René was just five years old when suddenly he had a “new family” and so many chores he was never able to attend school. He worked for his keep from that day forward.
René remembers the moment a friend mentioned that his right eye looked bigger than his left. He felt no pain, and his sight was unaffected, so René ignored it.
When René was 18, he began to notice pressure behind his eye when he exerted himself. He told the family. “But they didn’t care,” he explained softly. He had no money pay a doctor and no one to help him.
One day followed another until five years passed, and the eye pressure made working in the fields impossible. “I had no idea what it was,” said René. “I was worried something was growing. I felt like something was pushing, that my eye would pop out. When I rested, the pressure would stop. But, when I started again, the pressure would return.”
René returned to kitchen work, but his eye became more distorted.
Life turned around the day René’s friend told him about a television program about Mercy Ships. “This organization is doing free surgery. They can help you. There is a free screening,” his friend said. So together they went, and René was finally offered the help that had been so far out of his reach.
René had a very complex surgery. The slow-growing tumor filled his sinuses, pushing down his throat and into his cranium. This hungry yet benign growth had relentlessly pushed his eye forward. And, without medical help, it would have continued to expand.
The six-hour operation was performed by Dr Gary Parker, Mercy Ships Chief Medical Officer and Dr Mark Shrime. Dr Parker explained: “This kind of tumor usually starts in the nose and is corrected with a small operation. But because René didn’t have access to safe, effective and affordable surgery, it grew into something very complicated.”
Recovery from the intricate procedure was swift and complete. René can see clearly, breathe easily, and his headaches are gone. “The surgery went really well,” he announced. “The tumor won’t grow back anymore! I am really, really, really happy that the disease that was bothering my life is gone forever, and I am able to work. ”
René has plans for the future. “I’m going back to say ‘thank you,’ then go and find work. I’m going to try farming beans, corn and rice for myself.”