More than winning the lottery

Cornea transplants offer young recipient a chance for an enriched life

Duaa Babekr was just 4 years old when she began experiencing vision problems.

Realizing their daughter—the second oldest of their five children—would have to struggle to do things that came naturally to other kids was heartbreaking for her parents, but they tried to stay positive.

“It was a hard feeling,” Faris said. “But there was nothing to do but try to make her feel better.”

To that end, her parents brought Duaa to an ophthalmologist, who soon understood that she required special treatment. Faris and his wife were advised to take her to the renowned Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, but their insurance wouldn’t cover the expense.
Luckily for the Babekrs, though, help was available much closer to home.

Their doctor put them in touch with ophthalmologist Dr. David Chu, founder and director of the Metropolitan Eye Research and Surgery Institute of New York and New Jersey.

After examining Duaa, Dr. Chu recommended corneal transplantation—first in her left eye, then a year later, in her right.
It has been a year since Duaa’s second transplant, and she’s doing great. She’s an energetic, bright 8-year-old who enjoys playing with her four brothers and sisters and watching cartoons.

“It wouldn’t be easy for her to do the things she loves without her cornea transplants,” Faris said. “Life wouldn’t be easy.”

To know that Duaa doesn’t have to feel left out or different from other kids—Faris says he can’t even express the feeling in words. “It means more than winning the lottery.”

After seeing how Duaa’s life was changed thanks to the generosity of eye donors, Faris is quick to encourage everyone to consider donation.

“I tell people to never hesitate to make somebody’s life better,” he said. “If you’re able to help, you should not hesitate.”