Volunteer Insight: Dr. Hajirah Saeed ↘
Between October 15th and 18th Dr. Bouchard and I from Loyola, and Drs. Djalilian and Mehralian from UIC went to Guatemala to perform cataract and pterygium surgeries. The group was led by Dr. Ahsan Khan through the non-profit organization Humanity First. This was the first time that Loyola has participated in a collaborative mission trip involving ophthalmologists from several institutions. We also worked with Guatemalan ophthalmologist Dr. Rudy Gutierrez and his team of residents and fellows. With collaborative efforts like these, we are able to provide a wide range of services, and learn and observe the surgical techniques of others.
Fri, 25th Jan — 2 notes
Prior to our arrival, the Guatemalan team of ophthalmologists screened and triaged patients so that when surgery week arrived, we were most efficient in delivering surgical care. While operating rooms were running, other patients who desired ophthalmologic consultation were seen and triaged as well. Perhaps most importantly, with this collaboration, and with ophthalmologists on the ground in Guatemala, we were able to ensure follow-up care for our patients and develop a foundation to continue work that truly allows a level of access to care for these patients. Furthermore, these trips are incredible educational resources. The pathology that is seen is vastly different from what is typically encountered for us in Chicago. Several factors play into this including geography, climate, and access to care. We can’t change the first two, but we can work to increase patients’ quality of life by allowing them access to care they may not have otherwise been able to procure.
Collaboration with Guatemalan ophthalmologists also greatly aided in breaking the language barriers so that optimal care could be provided for our patients. Despite limited Spanish-speaking capabilities from out Chicago team, there are some gestures that transcend language. It was apparent that pre-operative excitement and renewed hope for better sight was translated into post-operative grins of satisfaction and fulfillment of that hope.
For me personally, I hope to keep my actions rooted in the values of social equity while at the same time seek excellence in medical knowledge and its translation into patient care. Trips like these allow me to continue down this path and satisfy my intellectual curiosity while stimulating it, engage my manual dexterity while deftly honing it, and furnish me with deep personal satisfaction while renewing my sincere dedication.
Here’s to continuing to reinforce the humanity and dignity of patient, practitioner, and profession for years to come.
Volunteer Insight: Kashif Malik
Working with the Gift of Sight Humanity First team was a very humbling experience. It was inspiring to see physicians and students take time out of their busy schedules for this noble cause. This entire experience has really put in perspective how blessed we are to be in a position to help those less fortunate. The more experienced members on the team did a tremendous job making new volunteers, such as myself, feel comfortable and important to the mission. This trip taught me that irrespective of your profession or age there really are no prerequisites needed for serving humanity.
Fri, 2nd Nov — 0 notes
Volunteer Insight: Naila Khan
My trip to Guatemala was amazing. I remember walking into the clinic early in the mornings and the patients crowding the narrow hallways. As the day progressed, that crowd got smaller and smaller. I witnessed hope change into relief as they got treatment. I am grateful to be part of such a talented and dedicated team. I am especially glad I was able to share this experience with my brother, Salam. All of our team members tried to help even in the smallest way to make a difference. The Gift of Sight was an opportunity for me that gifted me with a new perspective.
Sat, 27th Oct — 0 notes
Sat, 27th Oct — 1 note
HF Guatemala returned to Salud y Paz en Chichicastenango for the one-week Gift of Sight post operation follow-up clinic. Forty-three surgery patients returned to Salud y Paz to receive their check-ups.
Volunteer Insight: Juan Nuñez
During my flight back to Los Angeles, I had some time to reflect on the Gift of Sight mission this year, and I’m already missing Guatemala. I’m missing my new friends and old friends, I miss Salud y Paz, and most of all, I’m going to miss David Gonzalez. For those of you who don’t know David, he is the Executive Director of Humanity First Guatemala and our personal guide during the missions. He is a wonderful man who dedicates his life to the people of his country and his religion. This is my third year knowing David, and he has been an inspiration in my life – he makes me want to be a better man in life.
I’m so grateful that I was able to return to Guatemala for a third time, and to be part of a great group of people who take time out of their busy lives and leave their families to work so hard for our cause. This year there were a lot of new faces, both current and future ophthalmologists. I was so impressed to see how eager they were to learn and ready to do their part for the mission. Each year we are getting bigger as a group, so this year we took advantage of the large medical team and set up three operating rooms. They were running all day with doctors performing cataract and pterygium surgeries. Speaking for myself, I could have never imagined us doing three ORs at once – maybe two, but not three – and this is why I’m so proud of the 2012 Gift of Sight team.
This year, I was missing my partner in crime, “the Shafty” – I knew it was going to be hard for anyone to fill the shoes of Shafat as my OR assistant. If there was anyone who would do just as great of a job as the Shaft, I know it would be my beautiful wife, Jennifer. I was so glad that my wife was able to join us this year. My wife is a restaurant manager and has no experience in the medical field, but you would not know this if you had seen her in action in the operating room. I was so proud to see how well she did assisting the doctors and me. She picked up her role as circulator so quickly, she looked like a real seasoned RN.
As I see the lights of Los Angeles, I’m glad to be back home, but it also saddens me because I know I’m not going to be able to see my brothers and sisters until next year – people like David, Dr. Syed, Saifra, and Dr. Khan. Then I guess until next year, Gift of Sight 2013, I’ll see you again my friends – counting the days ‘til then.
Fri, 26th Oct — 1 note
The Gift of Sight team has been invited to an Guatemalan Association of Ophthalmology (AGO) program this evening in Guatemala City. Speakers will include Dr. Rudy Gutierrez, President of AGO, Dr. Charles Bouchard, Gift of Sight lead ophthalmologist & Chairman of the Ophthalmology Department at Loyola, and Dr. Ahsan Khan, Gift of Sight Program Director.
Fri, 19th Oct — 1 note
Volunteer Insight: Mohammad Arslan Khalid
With my less than mediocre ability to speak Spanish and let alone no Quiche dialect, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to fulfill my volunteer duties completely. Nevertheless, we walked into the clinic on day one past all the patients and what I saw besides countless smiles, were eyes full of hope. Hope, that brought a smile to my face and made me feel ever more purposeful for the mission. With the aide of translators, I was able to calm anxious patients and set up IVs with no trouble at all. The patients were all emotionally strong and made no complaints regarding any pre-operation procedures and approached their surgeries head on. In my few days spent here, I have experienced many remarkable things take place. Being able to see cataract surgery from start to finish under an ophthalmic microscope, really put things in “perspective.”
Thu, 18th Oct — 0 notes
Volunteer Insight: Jennifer Nuñez
Coming to Guatemala has been an abundance of life lessons that I will cherish forever. Thank you to everyone who helped get me here. I am extremely grateful for the Humanity First team. Everyone in Guatemala has been so kind and hospitable to me. It is amazing to see so many miracles of sight being done through our gift of sight team. It’s impressive to see such diverse backgrounds, such as culture, students, careers, and age, come as one team, to help others.
The most profound experience I have witnessed so far was to see how appreciative these people are. I have never in my lifetime, seen so many people in one place so appreciative. Most of the patients have traveled very far from their homes, some took hours while others took days to get to the clinic. All of this experience came real to me when I saw a very fragile, elderly woman who appeared to be 4.5 foot tall being carried by someone across a two way highway into the driveway clinic as we, the Humanity First team, arrived because the woman was blind from cataracts and was coming to us for help. At that moment on our first day of surgeries, I realized what an impact we were making in someone’s life. Through the everyday hustle and bustle of my life in America I have never felt the way I did today. I realized how much one person can impact another and how I take my life in USA for granted.
Thu, 18th Oct — 0 notes
Volunteer Insight: Syed Nawas Ahmed
It was a great experience to be part of a medical team and to really learn how it is to be a doctor. This was my first time being a part of Gift of Sight program. I was able to experience first-hand IV injections and observe surgeries during this eye camp. This fascinating trip has motivated me to learn Spanish and, hopefully, be a part of the team for next year too.
Mon, 15th Oct — 0 notes