Your donations provide surgical supplies and equipment to local medical professionals and volunteer medical teams throughout the world.
Upcoming Clinics in 2017
We are leaving on January 11th for a clinic in Tarapoto, Peru, followed by a clinic in Lebanon in early February. Now is a great time to donate what you can and join us in the Fight For Sight!
Total Surgeries in 2014:
Value of surgeries in local currency: $257,430
CURRENT MISSION UPDATE:
Peru: Ceviche to Die For, Old Friends and Pisco Sour
I dodged a bullet with the timing of the clinic as last week it was 46 degrees C with nearly 100% humidity in Tarapoto. Could fry an egg on the sidewalk if one was so inclined. All the nurses at the clinic wanted to work in the OR since that is the only room that is air conditioned.
The other bullet dodged was that we were supposed to go with the mobile clinic to Juan Jui. It flooded with the rains and we would have been stuck there so Lucho wisely decided to stay in Tarapoto for the surgeries and the Juan Jui patients were rescheduled for January. Mother Nature is not to be trifled with!
WHO IS TEACHING WHO?
I was asked to talk to the nurses; deciding that they were the ones who could teach me a thing or two about instrumentista, I spoke on international ophthalmology and urged them to practice their English. We had a lively engagement with a lot of laughter. Dr. Lucho's son, Pipe, a 4th year medical student provided nearly simultaneous translation.
The OR crew has adorable new scrub suits in turquoise with patterned trim around the pockets and collars. They looked like little turquoise butterflies flitting around the OR doing their jobs. The OR was clean, cool and superbly organized with 2 tables going simultaneously.
Lucho and Belty worked beautifully: a delicate controlled ballet of gloved hands performing miracles. It made me realize what a privilege it is for me to participate.
Lucho's "Chicas" average age 23, are lovely, energetic well trained girls. They exhibit
a symphony of teamwork.
SECRET LIFE OF INGER
Inger, Lucho's 30 something daughter, totally organizes everything. Right now she and I are organizing the International Congress scheduled for April, translating for me, logistics for this clinic in Tarapoto. She organizes his life and implements his dreams.
Inger came into Dr. Lucho's life only 4 years ago (9/26/11). Her absence from Lucho's life was caused by stinging separation from her mother when she was 2. He was told she was living in Spain.
Imagine his surprise when she pretended she was a patient to get into his office. When presented with her patient chart he said, "Oh, I had a daughter named Inger Pearl."
"Yes, I am your daughter, Inger Pearl..." And the room was bathed in tears.
Dancing around the clinic, he called his nurses in, "This is my daughter, the one who I thought was living in Spain!". (She never lived in Spain).
Even now Inger's mother doesn't know she knows her father. She tells her mom and brother, "Oh I am visiting my friend, Baillie in California" or "I am on the beach in Costa Rica" (this is the code my grand kids use when they think their mom will worry about where they are; and one which I use when I am traveling someplace sensitive). She is like a sister to me and I applaud her secret life with Lucho. Even now Lucho is programmed into her phone as "Lorena".
Now she is Lucho's right hand and my inspiration. I have trained her to do all aspects of international volunteer clinic organization: garner supplies, recruit, coordinate and deploy volunteers. When the day comes I can no longer participate she will take my place.
Even as we work in Tarapoto, the 3 of us are preparing for next month's clinic in Tripoli, Lebanon. ( Politics Allowing) A joy that our surgical team can help the Syrian refugees that fled for their lives from the Assad terrors.
In April to celebrate the 90th birthday with an International Congress. The purpose of the congress is to provide surgical skills enhancement and exchange followed by demonstration surgery for disadvantaged patients. Dr. Francisco , the Godfather of Ophthalmology in Latin America, and globally recognized for his skill and commitment to the poor is an inspiration to all of us.
The International Panel:
Dr. Francisco Contreras: Peru
Dr. Janek Shaw: India
Dr. Francis Nathan: Australia
Dr. Eduardo Arenas Archilla: Colombia
Dr. Roberto Jule: El Salvador
Each of them are very active in providing free sight restoring surgery to patients of their respective countries and where ever we have found need. Of course, we also hope to inspire the ophthalmology residents to join us in volunteering when they become qualified.
I have known and worked with this panel since my introduction to my world of free surgeries for the poor in 1979. The time has passed so quickly and over 60 countries have whirled by!
Hope all of you are well; I have lots of pics of the jungle and even the HUGE Monkey that kept baring his teeth at me through the window.
Salvadorian Super Heroes
Drs. Roberto Jule, Eduardo Alas and Heriberto Cuchillas performed a week long “Cataractathon” in El Salvador’s capital of San Salvador and the remote town of Jiquilisco. Over 50 major sight restoring surgeries were performed.
SSI’s Director of Programs, Baillie Russell Brown, ORT has volunteered with Drs. Alas and Cuchillas and their eye surgical nurse Margarita since 1991 and with Dr. Jule for over 10 years. All three Salvadorean surgeons have also volunteered their surgical skills in the Middle East with Brown. According to Brown “Our motto is: Bringing Sight to Life One Patient at a time; the Salvadorian certainly personify this!”
The Salvadorian Cataractathon was generously sponsored by Abott Medical Optics (AMO), Bausch and Lomb: Bausch Caring, Deseret Foundation and Kind World Foundation.
Assisting other NGO’s is one of SSI’s most important tasks. In June , we partnered with Kern County SEE in providing supplies for 66 surgeries in this remote area of Mexico. Bausch and Lomb donated the vital visco elastic for this Mission that completed 66 surgeries.
Bagram Airbase Afghanistan
Wanting to leave permanent benefit for the people of Afghanistan, a group of NATO and Coalition ophthalmologists serving in Afghanistan asked SSI to organize a humanitarian free cataract surgery program on Bagram Airbase. Initially working under the direction of (Airforce Captain) Dr. Amanda Richards, we developed an on-going program of sight restoration to provide cataract surgery to indigent patients who come to the Base for eye care.
SSI provided the A Scan (machine to measure the proper power of the intraocular lense needed), IOL’s, visoco elastic, and sutures that made cataract surgery possible. During the first quarter nearly 40 sight restoring surgeries were donated by Dr. Mohammed Youssry.
Future plans include working with Dr. Shir Amizada, Director of the Kabul Eye Hospital and Residency Program to assist Kabul Eye Hospital in providing their own sight restoring surgery to indigent patients. SSI’s liaison is Dr. Abdullah Ezzat, formal Medical liaison between NATO forces at Bagram and the Kabul Eye Hospital.
Director of Programs, Baillie Russell Brown, ORT, hopes to make a site visit in the future. According to Brown, since Drs. Richards and Youssry left, communication and coordination is difficult and time consuming which she hopes could be smoothed out with a face to face meeting with all permanent parties involved. NATO and Coalition ophthalmologist rotate out on a 6 month basis so it is vital to work with Afghani permanent personnel.
SSI gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Abbott Medical Optics, Bausch and Lomb, Deseret Foundation, Dr. Kathy Lenz and the Kind World Foundation.
Santa Barbara Sight
SSI believes that Charity Begins at Home and with the generous support from the Kind World Foundation purchased capital equipment to facilitate an on-going vision screening in Santa Barbara County. In addition to responding to requests from various social service agencies to provide patients for services ranging from refractions to surgery, SSI held a vision screening clinic at the Chumash Indian Health Clinic on the Chumash Reservation on July 16th. Volunteers Sarah Kennally, Baillie Brown and optometrist Dennis Bales screened numerous patients and those needing refractions will be treated at no charge by Dr. Bales. Glasses will be provided by Dr. Bales and the Santa Ynez Lions Club. Medical Ophthalmologist, Pamela Thiene, MD, will donate her services for Medical Ophthalmology at no charge through the Sansum Medical Clinic and eye glasses for Santa Barbara residents will be given at no charge by the Santa Barbara Eye Glass Factory.
SSI MISSION UPDATES