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LA Eye Surgeon Performs 8 Corneal Transplants in Syria

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.

Dr. Song's specialty, corneal surgery in young children, is rarely done outside of the industrialized nations because it requires highly advanced training and complex surgical tools.

This is just the latest mission of compassion for Dr. Song, who has also visited Ecuador, Nicaragua and the Fiji Islands in recent years to perform eye surgery for children.

About the Vision Center

The Vision Center at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is an international referral center known for its family friendly environment of children afflicted with all forms of eye disease and provides a full range of inpatient and outpatient services. It is the largest pediatric ophthalmology program in the nation with multiple subspecialty programs that are considered to be among today's finest resources for diagnosis, treatment and research.

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles is one of America's premier teaching hospitals, affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932. It is a national leader in pediatric research.

About ORBIS International

ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Since 1982, ORBIS programs have benefited people in 87 countries, enhancing the skills of more than 234,000 health care personnel and providing eye care treatment for more than 10 million people. To learn more about ORBIS, please see the ORBIS website at

Note: Additional photos are available at The Vision Center's website,

A video clip about the ORBIS medical mission to Syria is on YouTube under the heading "Dr. Song in Syria."

Provided by Newswise, online resource for knowledge-based news at

    Media Contacts:
    James Harris

    Amanda Hedlund

SOURCE Childrens Hospital Los Angeles
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