Like many of the children in his impoverished Ethiopian village, Nwankwo Kanu was born without eyelids. Forced to spritz his eyes every 30 seconds with a dirty water bottle, life was almost unbearable. Fortunately, that pain has been relieved by a generous donation of spare eyelid tissue by the Heoyoung Shim plastic surgery clinic located in Busan, South Korea.
Says lead surgeon Lee Chulwol, “I was performing so many eyelid surgeries that I was throwing out bags of old eyelid tissue everyday. I’d come home and find that I had a few eyelids stuck to my wristwatch. It was out of control.” Upon reading a story in the newspaper about the rare congential defect which causes the residents of the Ethopian village to be lidless, Mr. Lee came to the natural conclusion. “South Korea has too much eyelid and Ethiopia not enough. I knew it was time to strike a balance.”
The donation of eyelids is gratifying not only for Mr. Lee but also for his patients. “I’m glad that my all-consuming personal vanity has had a positive side-effect,” says Han Misong, who had her eyelid surgery performed 2 months ago. “I wonder if there are any Africans who need calf muscles.”