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From Jet Engines to Search Engines, ORBIS-FedEx-Indiana University Join Forces to Fight Unnecessary Childhood Blindness

Indiana University trains FedEx Fellow Dr. Phara Khauv as Cambodia's first pediatric eye surgeon

NEW YORK, July 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Phara Khauv, one of only eight ophthalmologists in Cambodia, is at Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine preparing to become his nation's first pediatric eye surgeon. Selected as the third FedEx Fellow, by nonprofit ORBIS International, Dr. Khauv is in Indianapolis for two months studying under Dr. Dan Neely, an IU associate professor of ophthalmology and pediatric ophthalmologist at Riley Hospital for Children. Dr. Neely has made several trips to Southeast Asia as an ORBIS volunteer faculty member.

"Too many children and adults from low-income countries like Cambodia 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 Dan Neely. "The overarching goal of ORBIS and the FedEx Fellows program is to upgrade the skills of eye care professionals from poor nations, which brings quality eye care one step closer to the people who need it the most."

One of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is believed to have one of the region's highest prevalence of blindness, estimated at 1.2% -- or 180,000 people blind out of a population of 15 million. The vast majority of these cases are either treatable or preventable. In spite of recent economic progress, Cambodia continues to suffer from the legacy of decades of war and internal strife. The senior generation of eye doctors were tragically lost in the late 1970s during the Khmer Rouge's genocide, making Cambodia's most senior ophthalmologists alive today around 40 years old.

"I'm honored to be awarded the FedEx fellowship and to take part in ORBIS-sponsored training programs, both online, at home in Cambodia and now abroad in Indiana," said Dr. Khauv, a pediatric junior doctor and ophthalmologist at Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap, Cambodia. "I've already learned a lot and it's now the turning point of my life-long journey to save sight in Cambodia. I hope my colleagues back home will have similar opportunities in the future."

Medical connections online and on airplanes

Long before the FedEx fellowship was awarded, Dr. Khauv and Dr. Neely formed a unique alliance online, via Cyber-Sight(c), ORBIS' telemedicine initiative which uses the Internet to connect doctors throughout the world with ORBIS volunteer ophthalmologists for professional mentoring, patient care consultation and online continuing medical education.

"For doctors like Khauv, Cyber-Sight is the best way to connect with other medical professionals," explained Dr. Eugene Helveston, founding director of IU's pediatric ophthalmology department and founder and director of ORBIS Cyber-Sight. "With a very simple investment -- a computer, digital camera and internet access -- doctors around the world can email photos and questions about patients to more experienced doctors who mentor them free of charge."

Drs. Khauv and Neely initially met during a series of ORBIS training initiatives in Vietnam where Dr. Neely had been invited to give lectures and surgical demonstration. It was here that Dr. Khauv learned of ORBIS Cyber-Sight and became the first Cambodian doctor enrolled. Drs. Khauv and Neely were matched up, and, in the years that have followed, the two have collaborated online on more than 30 surgical cases.

In December 2006, the doctors reunited during the first-ever ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital program in Cambodia, aboard the ORBIS DC-10 aircraft, which contains a modern ophthalmic surgical suite. Onboard Drs. Khauv and Neely operated on patients whose cases they had been discussing online via Cyber-Sight. It was during this Flying Eye Hospital program -- a program sponsored by FedEx -- that Dr. Khauv became a FedEx Fellow following a thorough review of potential candidates by an advisory group from ORBIS and the Cambodian ophthalmic community.

FedEx helps ORBIS deliver sight worldwide

For more than 20 years, FedEx (NYSE: FDX) has facilitated the humanitarian efforts of ORBIS around the world by providing financial, operational and logistical support. 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 in areas such as eye banking, primary eye care and hospital administration.

"These ophthalmic training fellowships target ophthalmologists from hospitals at the heart of the fight against blindness," said Bob Palmer, vice-president, FedEx Express. "By connecting the worlds of business, charity and academia, the FedEx Fellows program will make a visible difference in the quality of people's lives."

As the leading aviation sponsor for the Flying Eye Hospital, FedEx 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 complimentary access to its powerful network providing transportation services in support of ORBIS initiatives around the world.

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

About The Indiana University School of Medicine

The Indiana University School of Medicine, the second largest medical school in the nation, is dedicated to promoting health in the state of Indiana and beyond through innovation and excellence in education, research and patient care. As the state's only medical school, the IU School of Medicine has more than 1,300 students who are educated at nine centers across Indiana. More than 1,200 faculty advance the School's mission and promote life sciences in the Hoosier state.

Media Contact:

ORBIS International

Ann Marie Gothard


SOURCE ORBIS International
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