This is 68 hours in the life of an 8 month old Zhang Jun living in the Wenshan prefecture, Yunnan in China.
Born with congenital cataract, he had been diagnosed by local hospital doctors as incurable. He was totally blind and unable to see what his parents looked like. He was referred to at an ORBIS partner hospital in his prefecture. ORBIS travelled to collect Zhang and his farther for the trip to the hospital from their rural village. The new chapter of Zhang’s life had just begun…
14:33 December 16th.
Zhang’s farther travelled to the closest town to meet us. At the entrance we were greeted by 50 young children from a local school who were eager to meet outsiders. Unfortunately nobody from Zhang’s village could attend the school as they can’t afford the annual tuition fee of ¥800 Chinese Yuans (about £80 pounds).
14:50 December 16th.
In order not to miss our call, Zhang's father had waited for 4 hours at the town where there is mobile signal, he came to show us the way to his home, which according to him was another "20 minute walk”. We walked for almost an hour.
15:42 December 16th.
After a 6 hour drive from Mengzi and another hour walking on the rugged and muddy mountain road, we finally arrived at Zhang's home. His mother, blind in one eye, is preparing dinner for the family, Zhang is found sound asleep on his auntie's back.
15:50 December 16th.
Zhang’s 36-year-old father and 24-year-old mother had lived in the same village, but didn’t know each other before a blind date was arranged. When asked whether it was love-at-first-sight, they immediately withdrew their eyes and gave a shy smile.
16:06 December 16th.
Zhang comes from a big family. Two of his uncles and an auntie left his village as migrant workers. Zhang's father stayed to work on the farm, and look after his blind wife and little boy.
16:16 December 16th.
Dinner was nearly ready; Zhang’s father is feeding him some vegetables, while Zhang's grandma is weeping with happiness at the opportunity of free surgery for Zhang.
17:05 December 16th.
The young father set us off on the walk, eager to carry Zhang Jun to a different future, the little boy seemed to share the father's happiness and was making excited squeals.
17:26 December 16th.
The sun was setting, but there was still 6 hours to go in order to take the family to Mengzi. Zhang's father led us walking through the muddy road, wearing a smile on his face, as always. The baby lay quietly on father's back.
08:47 December 18th.
Zhang Jun received a medical check up on Dec 17th and was arranged as the first surgery on Dec 18. He got so scared in the surgery room that he kept screaming. His father played his favorite music using an old mobile phone for him, soon Zhang calmed down and fell asleep.
09:36 December 18th.
Zhang Jun slept deeply under general anesthesia, and the doctors were able to work on removing his congenital cataracts in both eyes; meanwhile, his father and mother lingered anxiously outside the operation room.
10:03 December 18th.
The foldable intraocular lens was being implanted into Zhang Jun's eye through a 3-min incision after phacoemulsification. This practice on babies requires high proficiency and extra accuracy. A younger doctor was observing via an assistant microscope.
11:11 December 18th.
After 3 long hours, Dr. Zhang, Director of Eye Department of Honghe Prefecture First People's Hospital successfully performed the surgery on Zhang Jun. She didn't take a break until 14:30, when she finished al the surgeries for that day.
11:43 December 18th.
Zhang's parents were relieved when they heard from Dr. Zhang that the surgery was successful. He looked so small in the big bed, with his folded clothes and new shoes at the other side.
09:56 December 19th.
Stuck in darkness for 8 months and another 68 hours, little Zhang Jun first opened his eyes to see. Tears of happiness in his father’s eyes, there will be a whole new world for him to discover now.
Photos © Jin Ou/ORBIS.