"Doctor" he mumbled, with his chin firmly in the slit lamp chin-rest, "The room seems to be filling with smoke" mumbled again as I hammered away at his retina with significant joules of Argon laser energy. "Really?" says I with clenched teeth, hoping the old laser wouldn't give that wretched "Overheat" alarm signal again.
I look up from my concentration on the temporal retinal artery and sure enough, there is a haze from door height up, the smell of burning electrical components. And as you know, where there's smoke..... So that's how the last laser machine died in October last year.
The old 1980's unit at Good Shepherd had died first, followed by the newer (ex Moorfield eye hospital) laser described above, based at the clinic in Manzini. The last 6 months have seen many people sent away with diabetes retinopathy raging like out of control forest fires. And there's not much else but Argon laser that works.
Armed with no laser experience yet enough enthusiasm and faith, Terry and Dan got stuck into the broken lasers today. These are 2 friends extraordinaire from White River. (South Africa) Both are American missionaries and Terry has helped me with fix-it jobs in the clinic before. We met when he needed my professional help some years ago.
The prognosis on the old laser doesn't look good. Does anyone know how to fix Error Codes 110, 111 and 112? Well, they failed so lets leave that old machine to be sunk in a lake. So, on to the "smoker": After much searching for we know not what, suddenly Terry notices a circuit board with a burned out Capacitor and some oily stuff extruding. I'm sent to find a replacement. In Siteki? A town of dusty streets and simple needs? Thank God my paths led me to Raymond and thus to the TV repair shop. After a few minutes, he comes out of the TV graveyard with a "cap" that is vaguely similar.
And what do you think happened? It works! Perfectly. Thank God. Thank you Terry and Dan! So the big need of 2012 is already met. Roll on the rest of the year!