March 23, 2014

Through the ORBIS Lens: Our Bags Are Packed, We’re Ready To Go

“Through the ORBIS Lens” is a collection of photos showcasing the issues surrounding global eye health. Each week ORBIS will share our best photographs highlighting our efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness around the world. 

 

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In preparation for the two week Cameroon program on the Flying Eye Hospital, FEH staff member, Ronald, takes inventory after landing at Yaounde airport in October 2013.

Photo:  Geoff Oliver Bugbee/ORBIS

 

 

March 11, 2014

Through the ORBIS Lens: Practice Makes Perfect

“Through the ORBIS Lens” is a collection of photos showcasing the issues surrounding global eye health. Each week ORBIS will share our best photographs highlighting our efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness around the world. 

 

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ORBIS provides an opportunity for local doctors to use the latest surgical simulators that are on board the Flying Eye Hospital (FEH), something they may not have readily accessible in their own country.

Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee/ORBIS

March 07, 2014

Happy International Women's Day!

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“I can say without a doubt it was a life-changing experience for me…” says Dr. Rozalina Loebis after training with ORBIS during a Flying Eye Hospital program in her hometown of Surabaya, Indonesia. The training has deepened her “vow to save the eyes of Indonesian children.” ORBIS honors Dr. Loebis and the selfless others like her today on International Women's Day.

Share this with a woman you know who inspires change in her community to thank them for all they do! 

February 28, 2014

Through the ORBIS Lens: A Teacher’s Dedication

“Through the ORBIS Lens” is a collection of photos showcasing the issues surrounding global eye health. Each week ORBIS will share our best photographs highlighting our efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness around the world. 

 

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Dr. Roberto Pineda gives a lecture after one of his teaching surgeries in Kolkata, India. The Kolkata training in September 2013 marked Dr. Pineda’s 10th as a Volunteer Faculty with ORBIS (his first was in 1998 to China!).We have amazing Volunteer Faculty!

Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee/ORBIS                     

 

 

February 25, 2014

Through the ORBIS Lens: Hold on Tight

“Through the ORBIS Lens” is a collection of photos showcasing the issues surrounding global eye health. Each week ORBIS will share our best photographs highlighting our efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness around the world. 

 

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Here is little Dao Song Toan enjoying time with his mother and brother a little over a year after his Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) treatment done by our partner, National Institute of Pediatrics in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Photo: Raul Vasquez/ORBIS

 

February 21, 2014

Through the ORBIS Lens: Goodnight, Moon

“Through the ORBIS Lens” is a collection of photos showcasing the issues surrounding global eye health. Each week ORBIS will share our best photographs highlighting our efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness around the world. 

 

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Beautiful full moon late September 2013 in Kolkata, India appears through the clouds.

Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee/ORBIS

 

February 18, 2014

Through the ORBIS Lens: In the Moment of Learning

“Through the ORBIS Lens” is a collection of photos showcasing the issues surrounding global eye health. Each week ORBIS will share our best photographs highlighting our efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness around the world. 

 

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Yogo Marie Angele is a hard working ophthalmic nurse at Yaoundé Central Hospital in Cameroon. In October 2013, she spent her first week during the Flying Eye Hospital program training in recovery and sub-sterile operations.

Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee/ORBIS

 

January 16, 2013

Seeing the Other Side of the Coin

Dr. James Lehmann’s Full Circle Journey with ORBIS

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Dr. Lehmann is a Cataract and Cornea Specialist from San Antonio, Texas.  He served as an ORBIS staff ophthalmologist on the Flying Eye Hospital in 2005 and returns to ORBIS as a volunteer faculty member.  This interview was conducted during his latest program with ORBIS in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2012.

Interview and photos by Geoff Oliver Bugbee

Why ORBIS?

What makes ORBIS unique compared to other NGOs is that we don’t just try to come into a region and do as many cataract surgeries as we can - which is helpful to people, but you leave and they are not able to replicate what you’ve done.  What ORBIS tries to do is take a kind of integrated approach.  It’s not just about the delivery of surgery.  The nurses teach nurses how to scrub, how to sterilize instruments, how to maintain sterile technique. The anesthesiologists teach the local doctors how to monitor patients correctly, how to choose patients for surgery.  The biomedical engineers do hands-on with the local biomeds and learn how to fix machines that are broken and do routine maintenance.  And that is truly unique about ORBIS - so when the Flying Eye Hospital comes to Addis Ababa and they’re at Menelik Hospital, when they leave they’re leaving the ability to continue what has been taught.

What is the fundamental difference between working as a staff member with ORBIS on the Flying Eye Hospital and being a volunteer faculty surgeon? 

When I was here in Addis Ababa for the first time it was 7 years ago as a staff ophthalmologist on this DC-10 plane.  At the time I had just finished my residency and had signed up to work as a staff doc for a year.  And now, coming back as visiting faculty is nice because I can see what a good impact ORBIS has had on Menelik II Referral Hospital.  Their eye bank is functioning.  I looked on the board the other morning and saw that they had harvested 127 eyes this year which is fantastic.  The operating room seems to have better equipment, is better maintained, and they’re doing a higher volume of surgery.

On a personal note, it’s special to me because I’m able to teach these local eye docs now and it’s kind of coming around full circle.  When I was an ORBIS staff doctor, I was more of a “helper” - organizing and doing the heavy leg work to support the whole dynamic process - much like the current crew who do it impeccably well.  But for me, it’s kind of special knowing that I put in the time doing that then and now to come back as a visiting faculty because I know how hard it is to be a staff member on this plane.  Not only that, what an honor it is to be picked by ORBIS to be a volunteer surgeon on a program.  They have a lot of eye doctors who want to do this, so the trust that they’ve put in me is not taken for granted. 

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Could you talk about the training and skills transfer process?

I’ve been impressed with how engaged the trainees have been here in Addis and the audience participants here in the Flying Eye Hospital classroom.  They’ve been copiously taking notes, asking questions - I think there’s a thirst for knowledge that they have and it’s encouraging to be a part of that process.

Our goal this week was to essentially teach cataract surgery to higher level trainees that are already doing some specialty work. We focused on a wet lab where we would simulate the cataract surgery before actually doing it on the patients.  It gave them the chance to get a feel for the instruments, get a feel for how the surgery goes - and all of it on these little clay eye models.  My two trainees are in their forties and they’re already practicing consultants here in Addis - one of them does glaucoma surgery and one does retina. It’s important for them to learn this modern cataract technique - Phaco emulsification. It allows them to do combined surgeries so they can take care of both the glaucoma and cataract at the same time.  The small incision cataracts which work well here also make it more difficult to do glaucoma surgery or retina surgery after the fact.

What motivates you to do this work?

As a cornea specialist I always get to see the happy endings - that is, the patient who has been the recipient of the cornea transplant and is seeing better.  But I had the opportunity a couple of months ago to attend what was called a ‘Donor Quilt Ceremony.’ These were people whose family members had donated a cornea after they had passed away.  Their pictures were sewn into the quilt.  The family of the donor would tell their intimate stories to the recipients in the room.  This powerful experience allowed me to see the other side of the coin.  I saw the people whose loved ones’ cornea had given sight to somebody else and that was big for me because I only see the happy side of the picture.  And here I was able to see how tragedy can sometimes lead to something fortunate. 

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November 09, 2012

A Fairy Tale or Flying Eye Hospital?

Blog Post by Sarah Jacobs

Dr. Sarah Jacobs participated as an associate ophthalmologist during Week 1 of the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is a graduate of the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN.

This afternoon, at the end of a day of paperwork and eye drops and cleaning and more paperwork, there was a knock on the door of the plane (that phrase sounded a lot more normal until I actually wrote it out). A woman from the ORBIS Ethiopian office was standing outside on the stairs with a group of grade school children who had arrived for a tour. A lecture was underway in the front classroom, and a surgery was in progress in the back OR. We silenced the kids with stern hushing, then led them to the laser procedure room.

Sarah-Jacobs-Ethiopia-FEH small“Ugh. Think of all the equipment in here that they can wreak havoc on,” said my inner curmudgeon. “Ooh! Remember the first time you looked at an eye?" said my better self.

I took the kids to the slit lamp in pairs, with one child as the patient and one as the doctor. I turned on the lights and adjusted the beams and let them look at each other’s eyes. Every child came away with an expression of curiosity and discovery on his or her face, as if they had just seen something truly amazing. Have you ever had a moment when you perfectly, clearly, joyfully remember why you do what you do? This moment was one of mine.

I grew up on a dead-end dirt road called Poverty Flat, in a small, windy northern Arizona town. I was the youngest of 5 kids in a family living well below the poverty line – grimy faces, hand-me-down clothes, pinto beans for dinner, and a backyard well for water. For most of my childhood, the town lacked specialty healthcare. Even if it had been available, we wouldn’t have been able to afford it. My mom had her first stroke when I was 12, and the general sense in my family was to accept it as fate. When my dad had a retinal detachment, the nearest retinal specialist was 5 hours away. We were poor. Care was beyond reach. Nothing could be done to change it. I hated the feeling of helplessly surrendering. 

I studied hard, earned scholarships, and worked three jobs to put myself through college. I ploughed on through medical school, planning to pursue general family practice medicine. During my third year of medical school, I was on a service trip to the Dominican Republic where I worked with an ophthalmologist who changed my entire career trajectory. The people there had a local expression describing the blind: “Bocas sin manos,” meaning mouths without hands – people who must be fed but can’t do anything to contribute back to their families or the community. Think what an impact it can have on their productivity, quality of life, and sense of self-worth when their vision is restored.

Nearly 5 years ago, a South American woman told me a story about a gigantic airplane with an operating room inside that came to her city and made the blind people see again. Fairy tale. Or so I thought. This week, I found myself standing inside that airplane, volunteering as an associate ophthalmologist for ORBIS. I’ve been on medical service trips before – Dominican Republic, Ghana, Bolivia, Haiti, Chile, South Africa– but the ORBIS experience is distinct in several ways.  

On other trips, we would arrive with hundreds of pounds of medication and equipment in duffel bags, then screen and treat hundreds of people each day.  Every time, the same question haunted me:  “What happens after we’re gone?”  With ORBIS, an in-country doctor has been caring for the patients before we arrive, and continues to provide care after the plane flies away.

The purpose of and ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital program is not to perform as many cases as possible, but to teach new skills and stronger techniques to the local doctors and nurses so that they can continue the work for years to come.

For example, on Monday during the screening for children with strabismus (misaligned eyes), I met a local provider we’ll call Dr Z. He had been doing some straightforward strabismus surgeries, but was not comfortable with his ability to do more complicated cases. His eagerness to improve was striking. By Tuesday, he was sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with the ORBIS surgeon in the OR. By Thursday, he was operating confidently on complex cases. By Friday, he was planning when and how to arrange surgeries for his own patients. ORBIS treated 8 strabismic children during my week in Ethiopia. Dr. Z will hopefully treat thousands. 

October 05, 2012

Through the ORBIS Lens: Daniel Craig in Mongolia

“Through the ORBIS Lens” is a collection of photos showcasing the issues surrounding global eye health. Each week ORBIS will share our best photographs highlighting our efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness around the world.   

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In 2011, actor and OMEGA brand ambassador, Daniel Craig visited the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital during a program in Mongolia. Celebrate James Bond Day today and watch "Through Their Eyes", feat. Daniel Craig produced by OMEGA Watches and ORBIS. http://bit.ly/SyRXJd

Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee