We saw 65 patients in two days

AFOPA member and Ophthalmologist, Dr Francis Nathan, reports back on his recent visit to Lebanon, 26-29 March 2016.


This mission was held at the Syrian American Medical Society Medical Centre and Hospital, two separate venues, from 26-29 March 2016.

We saw 65 persons in the first two days, with 21 patients then scheduled for surgery.  The patients were examined and screened for surgery at the Medical Centre and the operations were performed at the Hospital.

Eighteen cataract operations were performed in the following two days.  Two planned surgeries had to be cancelled due to patient co-morbidities (uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension), with one patient deciding not to proceed with her surgery.

The Medical Centre was reasonably well equipped with most of the diagnostic equipment available for use and in working order. We did have to borrow a biometer from PRCS (Palestinian Red Crescent Society) that we had donated in 2010.  It was pleasing to note that the biometer and the portable keratometer that we also donated in 2010 were available for our use and both pieces of equipment were working well. These two items are essential for cataract surgery to measure the power of the intra-ocular lens implant to be inserted in the eye at the time of surgery.

We were well supported by the staff in both centres and special mention must be made of the operating room staff - Eissam,  Abu Khaled and Malik - who all worked a long 8 hours on both days in the operating room.

Some of the supplies were not available on the first day resulting in difficulties with the surgery but a thorough search of the store uncovered the required items and the surgery went smoothly the next day.

All the patients were reviewed the day after their surgery, except for one who was too frail to attend (being 95 years old). Arrangements have been made for a follow-up later with a local eye specialist.  The designated eye specialist will see all the operated patients in 1-2 weeks’ time.

Some recommendations: 

  1. An inventory of all available supplies to be done and the visiting surgeon be informed so all other necessary supplies can be brought in.
  2. A local eye specialist could help with screening patients beforehand to identify those requiring surgery. That would free-up time for the visiting surgeon to do more operations. Ideally the specialist could also attend the operating sessions and either perform or learn to perform the procedures. This would also make post-operative follow-up more meaningful for the specialist.
  3. A number of children require squint surgery and it would be advisable to involve a paediatric eye surgeon in future missions. 

I want to thank the following:

  • Merlin Nathan for her help with the pre-op screening in the first 2 days and caring for the patients in the OR on the first day of surgery.
  • Mahmoud Al Hajj, the PCRF Coordinator in Lebanon, for the tireless work and the hospitality extended to us.
  • Dr Tony Hooi for donating a pair of magnifying loupes for examination of patients during the screening process and post-operative follow-up.
  • Morag Horton, a local pharmacist in North Adelaide, for donation of antibiotic eye drops.
  • Bausch and Lomb, Alcon and Allergan for donation of essential consumables for the surgery.
  • PCRF and AFOPA for their continuing support with the travel and accommodation expenses. AFOPA also donated US$500 towards essential surgical supplies used during this mission.

Thank you,

Dr Francis Nathan
Visiting Eye Surgeon
Adelaide, Australia
26-29 March 2016

Read PCRF article on Dr Francis Nathan's working visit to Lebanon.

  Dr Francis Nathan working in Tripoli, Lebanon, March 2016. [Photo: PCRF]

Dr Francis Nathan working in Tripoli, Lebanon, March 2016. [Photo: PCRF]