Mark Cawley, 59, from Plympton, is a sous chef at the Royal Citadel in Plymouth. He has praised REI staff at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust after operations which restored his sight.
Mr Cawley was part of an early group of patients to be treated in the new Ophthalmic modular theatres, which opened last summer at Derriford Hospital. The theatres were part of an investment from the NHS Elective Recovery Fund to address the pandemic’s impact on ophthalmic waiting times in Devon and Cornwall.
Mark was very grateful that he was able to have operations on each eye within nine weeks, for a torn retina and cataract removal. He says: “I was sightless for two weeks and that was really scary, so I could do nothing but praise the NHS.
“I can’t believe I can see, and when you don’t have sight, people within the general public don’t actually understand how scary it is. But now I can read, and I can work, I can write menus, I can read menus.
“I go in with a big smile and people don’t get it because they haven’t been there. I tell every man and his dog, guess what? NHS is awesome. They hold my hand and guide me, and do things that you didn’t ask. All the staff were sympathetic, and you were treated as an individual, not as just a number.
“When you’re in a situation that you smile because of the service – that’s it, and I’m profoundly grateful for the NHS.”