Cataract Mission Trip: November 2011
Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center Team: Neil Atodaria, MD, David Coulson, OD, Amber Gearhart, RN Director of Nursing, Sarah Walczak, scrub technician, and Michelle Minta, CRNA and founder of AZ Visionaries. Anna Tindell, RN deserves a very honorable mention as she helped with planning and packing of supplies and was then unable to join the team due to complications with her Visa. Also part of our team, Dr. David Patel, Robyn Tolboe, both from Mayo Clinic, and Mat and Teri Greer from Alcon Surgical.
Part of the Good News India Dream Center mission to educate the children through college or vocational school, there are about 2000 children in the Dream Centers all across India. They are located in very rural areas away from city hubs.
Children are rescued from slavery, prostitution, abandonment and neglect. The Dream Center in which the surgery team stayed had around 100 children living there. It cost $33 a month to sponsor a child.
198 surgeries were performed during our time in India. All equipment (including phaco machine and microscope) was transported on the airline with us. Many supplies were sent over the past year and a half, as well as 25 or more bins and suitcases of supplies brought with the team. After a lengthy battle with customs in India, we were able to proceed after giving up some of our valuable supplies, including some lens implants.
Dr. Coulson pre-screened all of the surgical patients and performed examinations including A-Scans and keratometry. Anesthesia was peribulbar blocks (without sedations) and was performed on the patio outside by Michelle Minta, CRNA and founder of AZ Visionaries. The operating room was set up on in the church hall. Patients were assisted onto a wooden table (dining table) and the surgeons sat on stacked lawn chairs. Every effort was given to keep mosquitoes and bugs out of the operating room, it was a futile effort after dusk.
It was by far one of the most challenging surgical missions of Amber’s career (over a dozen missions and not ready to stop!), but, in the end, it is always worth it to help so many people. The memories will last a lifetime: the people, our time with the children (playing cricket and other fun games in the field), seeing an elephant in the wild, caring for lepers, riding bikes through the villages, attending chapel with the children, and so much more!
An entire book could be written. Words cannot begin to express how important and meaningful it is to give to others that are less fortunate.
It would not have been possible without: Barnet Dulaney Perkins, Arizona Visionaries, Alcon Surgical/Humanitarian Services, CBD/Tomey (Cecil Swyers is always there for us on every mission), Avella pharmacies, McKesson Surgical, the 3000 Club of Arizona, Good News India, and all of the members of the medical team.