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Medical & Surgical Missions

Reflections of an Eye MD’s Phaco Experience in India

Thirty challenging advanced surgical cases in nine days: India has some of the best technology in the world, and some of the most clever minds.

Medical and surgical missions

Patience and Serenity

If there is but one thing I learned from my medical service and educational experience trip to India, it was to be patient. Moreover, I learned serenity during this trip. The country is very crowded with over a billion people and there is a need to learn to be serene in the face of challenges that we take for granted in the West. Despite power failures, long lines and language barriers, happiness prevailed.

Despite power failures, long lines and language barriers happiness prevailed.

Reflections of an Eye MD Phaco Experience in India

Some of the challenges included water contamination (we often had to use bottled water to wash before surgery as the water from the tap was brown), and the insecticide/mosquitocide in the OR was so strong it would make my eyes burn every morning. Gloves would be re-sterilized if contaminated with sanitizing gel. Blocks are done without sedation and the work goes on fine.

Our patients had every advantage as far as surgical excellence and experience goes

Surgical MissionsDespite a minimum of anesthesia and the challenges already described our patients had every surgical advantage with access to some of the world’s best technology and greatest minds. It was a privilege to work at the well known Agarwal Eye Hospital in Chennai. South India. Some of the phaco techniques used including vertical chop, and pop and chop, where the nucleus was lifted phaco tip bevel down into the iris plane with a venturi system and then chopped. Agarwal and his wife, both ophthalmologists are extremely clever- they attached a fish pump bubbler to every phaco unit bottle to stop surge and it worked beautifully. Agarwal also promotes a no anesthesia technique, a FAVIT technique for removing a dropped nucleus at the time of the occurrence, as well as glued-IOLs.

Operating with Shows: A Sign of Respect, Cleanliness and Spirituality

Microscopic surgery in the OR in India is performed without wearing shoes and socks, and these are not permitted in the OR. It is a sign of cleanliness and respect, and for me it was also very spiritual, a way to become closer to a higher power. I took away so much more from my trip to India than I gave. These gifts included spirituality, a gratitude for what we take for granted in the West, and an extreme serenity to work in the face of challenge in the best of situations. I learned I could perform and do things I thought not possible...