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California Eye Surgeons Journey to Vietnam to Perform Sight-Saving Surgery

FedEx Fellow completes fellowship at Stanford University and returns to Vietnam to lead pediatric ophthalmology department

NEW YORK, March 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Three leading California eye surgeons will travel to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to participate in a sight-saving mission April 14 - 18 on board the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital -- a state-of-the-art medical and teaching facility housed inside a DC-10 aircraft. Invited by ORBIS International, a nonprofit global development organization whose mission is to preserve and restore sight by strengthening the capacity of local partners in their efforts to prevent and treat blindness, each surgeon will work alongside Vietnamese ophthalmologists to provide advanced training in their areas of ophthalmic expertise.

The surgeons are:

-- Dr. Douglas Fredrick, pediatric ophthalmology, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford (Palo Alto)

-- Dr. August Reader, neuro-ophthalmology, California Pacific Medical Center (San Francisco)

-- Dr. James Brandt, glaucoma, University of California, Davis (Sacramento)

Like many emerging nations, Vietnam has a high rate of avoidable blindness and is working hard to provide quality eye care service to its entire population. There are half a million blind people nationwide, with the majority living in rural areas. Access to quality eye care is limited, as most ophthalmologists practice in the major urban centers. In the rural areas, health workers are usually nurses, who have minimal instruction in eye care and possess scant resources for blindness prevention and treatment.

"Too many children and adults in middle- and low-income countries unnecessarily lose their sight because they do not have access to doctors and medical interventions that are readily available in the United States," said Dr. Douglas Fredrick, a clinical professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics at Stanford University who has made several trips to Vietnam as an ORBIS volunteer. "The overarching goal of all ORBIS programs are to upgrade the skills of the nation's eye care professionals, which brings quality eye care one step closer to the people."

FedEx Fellow completes Stanford University training in pediatric ophthalmology

For more than 20 years, FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) has facilitated the humanitarian efforts of ORBIS around the world by providing financial, operational and logistical support. FedEx is again committing its resources as the sponsor of the two-week Ho Chi Minh City program, which will take place April 7 - 18, 2008.

In 2006, FedEx and ORBIS launched the global FedEx Fellows program, which designates two ophthalmologists per year to complete one- to three-month fellowships at some of the world's leading eye institutes. This initiative was designed to complement ORBIS' existing fellowship program, whereby training is matched to the particular skills and strengths of the fellows, enabling them to develop their chosen ophthalmic specialty, or is provided in areas such as eye banking, primary eye care and hospital administration. All FedEx Fellows are chosen from existing ORBIS partners and expected upon their return to put their newly-acquired skills and knowledge into practice by strengthening the capacity of their institution to provide high quality and affordable eye health care.

"The FedEx Fellows program has enabled me to learn from the very best in the field of pediatric ophthalmology," said Dr. Nguyen Thanh Chi, Da Nang Eye Hospital, who is the very first ophthalmologist to be awarded this honor. "I am now ready to return to Vietnam and to the forefront of efforts to prevent childhood blindness."

Under the tutelage of Dr. Fredrick, Dr. Chi has spent the last two months at Stanford University enhancing her knowledge to treat a number of eye diseases and conditions that occur in childhood and early adolescence. This month, Dr. Chi will return home to Da Nang Eye Hospital and resume leadership of the pediatric ophthalmology department. In addition, the fourth FedEx Fellow will be announced at the conclusion of the Ho Chi Minh City program, giving a fellow colleague the opportunity to follow in her footsteps.

FedEx -- Delivering Sight Worldwide

As the leading aviation sponsor for the Flying Eye Hospital, FedEx Express provides vital aviation maintenance support for the ORBIS aircraft and sponsors "Delivering Sight Worldwide," a global public awareness program that draws attention to the extent of avoidable blindness worldwide. Delivering unwavering support, FedEx completes the annual safety check for the Flying Eye Hospital at no cost to ORBIS. In addition, FedEx pilots volunteer their time to fly the Flying Eye Hospital to medical program locations worldwide. FedEx also gives ORBIS complimentary access to its powerful network of transportation services to support the organization's blindness initiatives around the world.

ORBIS in Vietnam

ORBIS has been working throughout Vietnam to develop long-term national plans to promote blindness prevention, expand availability of pediatric ophthalmology facilities and enhance the country's eye banking capabilities. ORBIS has been especially successful in introducing treatment strategies and resources for retinopathy of prematurity, a leading cause of childhood blindness. Last year, as a result of 13 major ORBIS projects, 6,070 doctors, nurses and community eye health workers received training. More than 675,026 people were examined for eye disease, and medical treatment and/or surgery was provided to 133,095 patients.

About ORBIS International

ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Since 1982, ORBIS programs have benefited people in 86 countries, enhancing the skills of more than 195,000 health care personnel and providing eye care treatment for more than 6.8 million people. To learn more about ORBIS, please visit

SOURCE ORBIS International
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