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Investing in our region’s health

A Caloundra woman’s eyesight-saving surgery was done here on the Coast thanks to Wishlist.

Tewantin resident Pauline Durham could never have anticipated almost losing her eyesight on two occasions. But standing with her colleague during a shift at a Noosa resort, her work mate noticed something was wrong with Ms Durham’s left eye.

“My eye had turned black and purple,” Ms Durham says. “I went to see my optometrist and he confirmed I had a retinal detachment and was advised to head immediately to Brisbane for a procedure to help save permanent loss of eyesight.

“I was shocked and scared. All I could think about was not seeing my grandkids.”

The 60-year-old was directed by the Brisbane team to ophthalmology surgeon Dr Warren Apel at Caloundra Health Service. “I was booked in that very week
on October 1 and was amazed to be arriving back home within a couple of hours post-surgery,” Ms Durham says.

The successful procedure yielded a 90 per cent return of Ms Durham’s vision on the proviso she see out the recommended recovery time. “It took a mountain of discipline over the two months. Mentally it was one of the biggest roadblocks of my life not being able to do regular things like work, exercise and cooking.”

The extension of ophthalmology services on the Sunshine Coast is thanks to supporters of Wishlist, which has directed more than half a million dollars over the past decade to the ophthalmology unit at Caloundra Health Service.

Wishlist CEO Lisa Rowe says a recent $70,000 funding boost plus $430,000 raised from The House the Coast Built appeal in 2011 with Ausmar Homes has enhanced services with state-of-the-art medical equipment including eyesight-saving lasers.

“This equipment has changed the lives of thousands of locals and they have enjoyed access to state-of-the-art treatment right here on the Coast without the inconvenience of travelling to Brisbane,” Ms Rowe says.

But there is still one item left on the charity’s ‘wish list’ – a $48,213 laser to benefit patients at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

“Given everything I went through, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude for the caring and careful guidance of Dr Apel and his team, and to Wishlist for funding the equipment needed to make my procedure possible,” Ms Durham says.

The Wishlist Centre, currently under construction in Birtinya, is also receiving a boost after a $25,000 donation from the Caloundra RSL Sub Branch.

Stage one of the four-level Wishlist Centre is expected to open later this year to provide care and support services to patients and families facing a health crisis.

Stage two will also provide further support for young adults and adolescents.

Wishlist Centre will be the nation’s first facility to offer affordable patient accommodation, primary healthcare and complementary therapies under one roof.

Visit wishlist.org.au

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