American Generosity And The Gift Of Sight

Princess Awortwe
Fourteen-year-old Princess Awortwe came from Ghana to Chicago for surgery to restore her vision.

Meet 14-year-old Princess Awortwe and her mother Kate. She lost sight in her left eye nine years ago because of a cataract and a diseased cornea.

Although they're from Ghana, they're in Chicago because today is a big day for Princess, reports CBS News correspondent Harold Dow. They're on their way to the hospital now, and if Princess does see out of that left eye again it will be because of two words: American generosity.

It all started 7 months ago when the non-profit Our Children International launched a medical mission to Ghana hoping to help some of the 15,000 children who suffer from blindness. They often lose their sight when they are bitten by mosquitoes that live and breed in polluted river water.

The organization convinced 15 doctors and nurses to volunteer for the week-long mission. It restored sight to dozens of children, but not everyone could be treated. That brings us to Princess.

"In Ghana, there is no eye bank, and neither is there any in sub-Saharan countries," said eye surgeon Osvaldo Lopez. "So that's a tragedy. There are 320 million people in there and there is not a cornea bank available."

That's why Our Children International flew Princess to America and got the Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital to donate its time and services.

"What do you think it will be like to see out of that eye?" Dow asked Princess just before her operation.

"It will be good," she said.

Princess said other kids in Ghana tease her. When asked what they will say when she returns, she said, "Some will be happy."

But will she be happy?

"Yes," she said with a big smile.

Her mother said she is poor and just didn't have the money to get Princess the medical help she needed.

While you might think that an operation to restore someone's sight would take quite a while, that is not so. Princess' only took about 35 minutes.

The next morning, it was time to remove the eye patch.

"It might hurt a little," the doctors told Princess.

But a few moments later, she said she could see again.

Our Children International also flew in a Ghanaian nurse who is being trained to operate a donated $40,000 ultra-sound machine for the eyes.

"The difference that machine will make is tremendous," said Sue Vallese, the group's founder and president. "It will be able to determine who can be given sight, who can receive a cornea transplant."

And that's the mission of Our Children International: to help train medical professionals, give them the equipment and technology they need, so that they themselves will be able to raise the level of care for their children like Princess.