Third surgical mission to Tripoli

AFOPA member Dr Francis Nathan (Ophthalmologist) reports back on his recent visit to Tripoli, Lebanon, 19-25 February 2017, with the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF).

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This was the third surgical mission to Tripoli in northern Lebanon with PCRF (Palestinian Children's Relief Fund) and the most productive.  It was held in the Al Basheer Hospital run by the Syrian American Medical Society in Tripoli, north Lebanon.

 Dr Francis Nathan operating during his visit to Tripoli, Lebanon, in February 2017. [Photo: PCRF]

Dr Francis Nathan operating during his visit to Tripoli, Lebanon, in February 2017. [Photo: PCRF]

I was able to engage a young Palestinian surgeon, Dr Ashraf al Assi, whom I had met in the Dominican Republic in December 2016 on a surgical trip with INCIVI, a Spanish organisation. He helped with the screening and performed surgery on his own during the mission.

We also met Dr Ramzi Hemady, visiting from the US, who expressed keen interest in the work of PCRF and I would like to involve him in the future.

We were able to do 32 cataract operations on 30 patients, two of whom had cataract surgery for both eyes done within the space of two days. This was because of the advanced nature of the cataracts in their eyes. One was a young woman of 36 years who needed to get back to being productive. The other was an elderly gentleman who was visually incapacitated and had to have both eyes functioning well to carry on his daily activities at home.

Altogether 35 operations were performed over five days.
— Dr Francis Nathan

Altogether 35 operations were performed over five days, with 3 “corrective” procedures done on the last day to fix post-operative complications.

We were also able to provide surgery with the phaco technique, removing the cataract through a small wound, as we were able to get the machine functioning.

However, most of the surgery was done “manually” (through a slightly larger wound) because of the advanced nature of the cataracts encountered.  

 This family - father, mother and daughter - were extremely happy with their successful operations. [Photo: F.Nathan]

This family - father, mother and daughter - were extremely happy with their successful operations. [Photo: F.Nathan]

Another highlight was the chance to operate on three members of one family of a father, a mother and a daughter, who had both eyes done (pictured on right) all of them desperately requiring the surgery.

The whole mission was extremely well organised due to the diligence of the local PCRF Co-ordinator, Mahmoud al Hajj. About 60 patients were screened and 30 were posted for surgery.

The operating staff consisting of Essam, Abu Khalid and Hussein were all professional and extremely competent. They were also dedicated to the program and came in on the last day (a holiday) to attend to the patients who had to have their surgical complications fixed.

I want to thank AFOPA for their ongoing support and the donors who contributed towards the travel expenses. Their support has certainly benefited a number of refugees in need of this life-changing operation.

DR FRANCIS NATHAN
Ophthalmic Advisor to Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF)

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