Resident Rukhsana Mirza, MD
Location Lahore, Pakistan [ MAP ]
Hospital Services Hospital Lahore
Sponsors Loyola University Medical Center
Resident Ahsan Khan, MD
Location Rabwah, Pakistan [ MAP ]
Hospital Fazle Omar Hospital
Sponsors Loyola University Medical Center
  Trip Photo Presentation

July, 2004

In late March and early April of 2004, I volunteered at Fazle Omar Hospital, located in a village called Rabwah, about 200 km west of Lahore in Pakistan. Through a family friend I came to know that they were in need of a volunteering ophthalmologists for clinical and surgical services. Moreover, I came to know that they had a well-experienced ophthalmologist there who could serve as my mentor. The Loyola ophthalmology department was generously supportive of my expressed desire to volunteer at this hospital during my senior year of residency, and took care of most of my travel expenses.

Although my trip was short, about ten days minus three days worth of travel time, it was very productive and extremely busy. In all, I personally performed eye exams on nearly 300 patients, and was able to perform over a dozen cataract extractions with lens implantation. I also assisted on many cases performed by the attending ophthalmologist, including extracapsular cataract extractions. The phacoemulsification machine was old but in good working order. I was able to take a lot of surgical supplies with me, including intraocular lenses (most of which were generously donated by Alcon Labs and Pharmacia). The surgical techs had no difficulty adjusting to my surgical technique and lack of fluency in Urdu, and after a few cases, things went very smoothly.

The local newspapers had posted news of my imminent arrival several weeks before I got there, so many patients from villages several hundred kilometers away made planned visits to the hospital during my one-week visit. The pathology was quite impressive…glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy were rampant, and many patients, well into their sixties and seventies, had never had their eyes examined. We performed several hundred refractions by basic retinoscopy with loose lenses, and a local optical shop was available to fashion prescription glasses for all the patients.

I was able to travel around the small village and enjoy the company of the local people. They embraced me like an old friend and made extra efforts to ensure that I remained healthy and was well taken care of. Although I was advised to exercise caution with the local diet, I made sure I had a taste of authentic Pakistani food while I was there.

The hospital administration was very grateful for my visit and requested that I return soon, and I whole-heartedly accepted. I realized upon returning home that this is something I would like to continue doing for the rest of my career, God willing.

I feel very fortunate and privileged to have taken part in a foreign medical mission trip during my residency. The experiences I gained, the friends I made, and the memories I secured are truly special. I would like to personally thank Dr. Richard Gieser for fostering in the Loyola residents an interest in foreign work . His vast experiences and incredible stories were one of the inspiring forces behind my efforts to make this trip a reality. I hope Loyola ophthalmology residents will continue to take part in foreign medical mission trips in the future and renew a tradition begun by Dr. Gieser and Dr. James McDonald years ago.

Best regards,

Ahsan Khan, MD
Class of 2004