A Cashmere rotary club has awarded a Paul Harris Fellow to a doctor who performed eye surgery on a virtually blind Fijian-Indian man free of charge.
Christchurch West rotary Club president Des Buckner presented the fellow, the highest honour that can be awarded by a rotary, to ophthalmologist Dr. Malcolm McKellar late last month. “He gave totally of his skill and expertise for nothing,” Mr Buckner said.
Dr McKellar said the award came as a total surprise. “I know it means a huge amount to the rotarians, so it was a huge honour,” he said.
The club first heard about Ashvin Kumar, 27, when members Ron Birch and Gordon Hooper went to Fiji on a ‘rotahomes’ project building houses in Mr Kumar’s village. He was suffering from a degenerative eye disorder called keratoconus.
Finding him a likeable young man and moved by his predicament, they rallied the group to raise funds and fly him to New Zealand to have a special contact lens implanted in his eye.
Dr. McKellar, along with anesthetist Sharon King, operated free of charge. St George’s hospital also gave a discount for the use of their theatre.
Mr. Kumar recently returned to Christchurch for a check-up with Dr. McKellar, who said his recovery was going “stunningly” well. “It is a fantastic result. His peripheral vision was pretty horrible, and he looked pretty awful with his thick glasses. Now he sees pretty much as well as we do,” he said.
Mr. Kumar he said it “felt great” to have his vision restored. “It’s much better than my glasses,” he said. My mum’s really excited about this…now she keeps telling me to get married.”