14 Year old Lhaki’s hope of a full vision is dashed after her referral is denied

llkLhaki Dema loved to dance and she never missed any dance competition. Four years back when her right eye became blind she stopped dancing.

Her father Sonam Tshering said “for her dance competition I had to buy her a new dress and shoes annually.” But her interest in dance got lost and she avoids being with her friends and prefers to stay in her room, all alone.

When Lhaki was 11 years old her right eye got infected. It started turning red, watery and got irritated. “I can’t even face sunshine and I get giddiness too,” said Lhaki.

As soon as her eye got infected she was taken to Paro hospital and was admitted for two weeks. After that she was referred to Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), Thimphu.

“Even after staying for around two months, doctors in JDWNRH could not cure my daughter’s eye,” said Sonam Tshering.

On asking about the eye specialist who checked his daughter’s eye, Sonam Tshering said “I don’t remember the name but heard that he was the senior doctor.”

Even though doctors in Bhutan could not cure his daughter’s eye, Sonam Tshering fervent with hope felt that one day his daughter’s eye will be normal like before.

Therefore he asked them to help him to take Lhaki to Bangkok. But “after several visits to the doctors in JDWNRH, they gave a cold response,” he said.

Today Lhaki is using a black spectacle to cover her damaged eye.

“Every day I dream to have my previous eye and every night I pray God to cure my eye,” said Lhaki who will be in 6th Grade next year.Her parents have even noticed that her studies have suffered as she gets giddiness regularly and suffers insomnia.

“Before my daughter used to assist me to cross the road, but today I have to hold her hands and help her cross the road ,” said the father.

Meanwhile Lhaki shared that she gets a bright blurry vision and stressing her left eye too much makes her tired and suffer from headaches.Lhaki is the only daughter and the youngest in her family, which makes her parents feel more depressed and helpless.


At one time her father thought of donating his eye to her and he had even suggested the idea to the doctor when she was hospitalized in JDWNRH.

“But I am not sure whether they heard me or it fell on deaf ears,” said Sonam Tshering.

Meanwhile Health Minister Lyonpo Zanglay Drukpa said that referring a patient to Bangkok is beyond their scope. “We have certain guidelines to be followed while referring patient to international hospitals,’ he said.

He added that the health ministry is there to help them if they come to visit the hospital once again. He said they would like to see the patient’s case and ask doctors to revisit it and advise parents on how to go about it.

However the Health Minister said that out of various departments in JDWNRH, the ophthalmologist department has highly qualified doctors.



















Check Also

Thimphu Thromde faces land tax collection dilemma amidst pending executive order

Dratshang, National Housing Development Corporation Limited, and Thimphu Thromde are the highest land and building …



    If ministers get diarrhea or dental problem they are referred to bangkok n sty in 5 star hotel with servants. I think they should be atleast send to India. Shame on govt for such bad attitude. Some ministers are about to die still they are treated in bangkok.

  2. It is a sad story and calls for amendments in the health care system. It is an example of one of the weakness of the publicly funded health care system especially in a developing country. It is not about the patient being referred or not but about patient knowing about his/her problem and possible treatment plan( information asymmetry). In most of the cases, it is the care provider who decides for the patient although the patient would not have chosen given he/her knows about an alternative choice.
    On similiar  line I would like to share a story. I relative of friend of my had back pain and visited the apex hospital and seen by the specialist for around six times in a year. For first four visits, he was prescribsed with pain reducing medicine and no proper diagnosis made even after couple of xrays and his repeated complain. On the fifth visit he was referred to a physiotherapist for some exercises and finally on the sixth visit he was then referred to psychologist ruling out any physical problems. By then it is almost two years after experiencing the first pain on his back. Fortunately, he was financially sound. Not being able to get rid of his problem even after almost two years he decided to visit one of the hospitals in siliguri where he was diagnosed with backbone problem through CT scan. He was lucky that the problem was in its early stage and could recovery fully with treatment. After hearing this story, I was just thinking how many preventable deaths/disability  were missed and how it can be addressed in future? I also heard some health staffs, scolding on patients that they come only at the last stage  of disease when nothing can be done but I am just thinking whether it could be caught even if they showed up early. (Thats why I still believe in performing RIMDRO, when sick because luck plays equally in getting well from illness especially where the health care is based on trial and error method).

  3. totally understand the hope and emotions of her parents and the young girl herself, every father would wish to have his only daughter grow up pretty & successful free of sufferings,,, wish all the best things in the world for his/her own daughter,,,, its unfortunate that she n her parents had to suffer like that,    but there must b a strong reason why she was denied a referral outside – may be because her eye must have sustained permanent damage whereby nothing could be done anywhere in the world, forget bangkok.  At the most an artificial eyeball could be put in place of the damaged one(if its gone out of shape) just for the sake of maintaining her cosmetic appearance,,,     but its really disheartening to learn that such a young gal had to endure such unfortunate illness

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *