ORBIS flying eye hospital to leave Stansted Airport for India this week

PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 September 2009 | UPDATED: 21:54 31 May 2010

The world's only flying eye hospital left Stansted Airport this morning

The world's only flying eye hospital left Stansted Airport this morning

THE world s only Flying Eye Hospital left London Stansted Airport after hundreds turned out to see how international sight-saving charity ORBIS, carries out its training in developing countries.

The aircraft is operated as part of the charity s global wor

THE world's only Flying Eye Hospital left London Stansted Airport after hundreds turned out to see how international sight-saving charity ORBIS, carries out its training in developing countries.

The aircraft is operated as part of the charity's global work, preventing avoidable blindness in the poorest communities of the world and leaves for its next mission in India next week.

Consultant ophthalmologist and chairman of ORBIS UK's trustees, Rob Walters, said: "There is something fascinating about an eye hospital on board an aeroplane. It is a tangible and innovative way of providing a solution. I believe everyone who has visited the Flying Eye Hospital or heard about ORBIS's work, is touched by its pragmatic nature.

"The plane, its crew and the medical volunteers who train local doctors on board, are fighting avoidable blindness in a practical way. This alongside the work ORBIS does working in partnership with local hospitals, ensures that no-one will be blind because they lack access to good quality eye care."

The Flying Eye Hospital is a DC-10 aircraft converted into a state-of-the art training facility. ORBIS's medical volunteers - consultant ophthalmologists, anaesthetists, and nurses - donate their time to transfer skills across continents.

The next flight that gives sight will be to India (leaving Stansted Airport Thursday September 17) where, ORBIS volunteers and local doctors will restore the sight of children like Richard. Richard is three years old and lives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

He had a severe squint which affected his mobility and everyday life. The procedure to restore Richard's sight was not available when his mother heard that the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital was landing she hoped this would be the moment that changed Richard's life forever.

Richard was taken on board as a training case so that local doctors could observe the operation. Not only was Richard's eye sight restored but now others in Dar es Salaam have better access to sight-saving operations as local doctors have been trained in the procedure.

Some 45 million people in the world are blind yet 80 per cent of them do not need to be. Their blindness is preventable or curable with simple techniques. ORBIS, founded 27 years ago, has benefited people in 87 countries, enhanced the skills of more than 230,000 healthcare practitioners and provided eye care treatment to almost 10 million people.

For more information visit www.orbis.org.uk

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