A new flying hospital has been unveiled in Los Angeles, a fully stocked and outfitted MD-10 aircraft. This one of a kind airplane will be used by volunteer ophthalmologists and other eye care professionals working with Orbis, an international charity that helps treat eye and vision problems in poor countries and regions around the world.
Because many of the ground locations that this plane travels to have little in the way of supplies and equipment, the plane has been outfitted with not just the latest and greatest in eye care technology, but also some of the basics that many of us might take for granted on a daily basis.
“You can be in Zambia and the power goes out in the middle of the surgery,” said ophthalmologist Dan Neely of the Indiana University School of Medicine. “You can be there needing to scrub your hands for the surgery and you have to use a bucket of water because the water’s gone out.”
The charity and it’s volunteers team up with local clinics in remote areas, including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Latin America, China, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and more.
According to research carried out by the World Health Organization, it’s estimated that upward of 285 million people in the world are visually impaired, a majority of them in poor, third world countries. Approximately 80 percent of these visual impairment issues could be prevented or cured with proper medical treatment.
In addition to those with medical training volunteering to help, aircraft pilots are eager to join, as well. “When you see a child who can’t see on Monday and they can see on Wednesday, you’re hooked,” said Captain Gary Dyson, professional cargo pilot for FedEx. “You want to see it again and again.”