Dr. Ristvedt hopes to continue her grandfather’s legacy, a legacy that stretches over five decades of service as a volunteer eye surgeon in West Africa. She has made a commitment to return every year for up to two weeks and perform as many free surgeries as possible.
The Gess Eye Hospital has served millions of patients since its first opening. Though the facility has grown to include a new ambulatory surgery center, a need for retina facilities persists. The new “West African Center of Excellence in Vision Care” would be the first and only destination for retina surgery in West Africa. Dr. Ristvedt and her husband Eric are determined to raise the $200,000 needed for the new facility before the end of 2019. A new facility would provide much-needed services and serve as a beacon of hope for the people of West Africa.
Additionally, Dr. Ristvedt and her husband wish to raise money to provide free cataract and glaucoma surgeries. When Dr. Ristvedt practices at the hospital, she provides as many free surgeries as possible in her time there. Most of the year, when Dr. Ristvedt is not in West Africa, the patients must pay for the surgeries. Each surgery costs $50, a number much too high for most of the patients in West Africa. The ability to see is life-changing. Every $50 pays for a cataract surgery for a patient that might otherwise go blind.