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LA Eye Surgeon Performs 8 Corneal Transplants in Syria
Date:6/12/2009

LOS ANGELES, June 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Jonathan C. Song, director of the Cornea Institute in the Vision Center at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and an eye surgeon specializing in corneal diseases and transplantation, has just returned from a medical mission in which he worked with Syrian and Iraqi eye surgeons at the Syrian city of Dier Ezzor. During the medical mission, May 18-22, Dr. Song saw 50 patients and performed eight corneal transplants and five cataract surgeries. In addition to holding training sessions with Syrian ophthalmologists, he also lectured to 25 Syrian and Iraqi medical professionals about advanced eye surgery techniques.

Dr. Song is one of the few eye surgeons in the world who performs 20-25 corneal transplants in young children each year. He was traveling with a team of six ophthalmic medical volunteers from ORBIS International and its flagship Flying Eye Hospital, a unique surgical and training center located within a DC-10 aircraft. Dr. Song trained physicians and healthcare professionals in several advanced corneal surgery techniques inside the aircraft's operating room.

In one of the most challenging surgeries, a 12-year-old Syrian girl suffering from very poor vision had her sight restored in one eye with a corneal transplant.

During the initial days of the training session, the ORBIS volunteer doctor leads the surgery; by the end of the week the local physicians are generally conducting the surgery, assisted by the ORBIS volunteer.

The ORBIS team was invited to Syria by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, who is a trained ophthalmologist. While he does not currently practice medicine, President al-Assad remains very interested in ophthalmic medicine and is active in improving eye care for children and adults in Syria. On a 2008 visit by the ORBIS team, he came on board the aircraft to view the OR and meet the surgeons.

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SOURCE Childrens Hospital Los Angeles
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