Spotlight on Success: Peter Oyuga

“As human beings most of us aren’t wired to think about failure. We think about success and strive to achieve it in all we do. We’re stunned by failure, stopped in our tracks by disappointment, and sometimes we’re unable to go on. But in certain cases what might look like a failure to some is really a success. The story of PETER OYUGA is such a story.” – Ray Tye May, 2008

The story of Peter Oyuga came to our attention through Angels of Hope, a small non-profit organization that provides free basic healthcare to children in Uganda. This charity operates on a very small annual budget and when their Founder, Fay DeAvignon heard of Peter’s distressing case, she put all her personal effort into helping this small boy. Fay heard of The Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation from a friend and applied to us for financial help. She told us she would use her own resources to sponsor the boy and his father during treatment and that she would offer them shelter in her own home in Natick, Massachusetts. The Foundation agreed to pay for the hospital and medical costs and the race to get Peter to the United States was on.

Several doctors in Uganda had diagnosed the child with bi-lateral retinoblastoma, cancerous tumors on both retinas, the tissue at the back of the eye. Not one of these doctors or clinics could offer Peter the care or surgery needed to cure the disease. Over time, the aggressive tumor in his right eye became extraocular, meaning that it extended beyond his eye and deformed his face. By this time, his left eye was developing a similar tumor. Peter’s parents, peasant farmers caring for a family of 10 other children, had done everything to find help for their 3-year-old son. Their meager resources were gone.

Fay DeAvignon found out quickly that the plan of action needed to bring the child and his father from Uganda to Boston was complicated. Passports, visas and transportation all needed to be painstakingly arranged. Time was slipping by and Peter’s disease was getting worse, taking a toll on his frail body. Dr. Aaron Fay at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary agreed to provide his evaluation and surgical services at no cost and Camille Condon of the Hospital’s International Program went all out to help Fay DeAvignon navigate the maze of government bureaucracy on both sides. The Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation was firmly on board and it was clear that everyone was pulling together to give this little boy a chance to live. But several weeks went by before final arrangements were made and by then Peter seemed very close to death.

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