Mr Hooman Sharafat, consultant ophthalmologist at New Victoria Hospital, has just returned from Burma where he did a week of ophthalmic charity work. He has been doing ophthalmic surgery such as the removal of cataracts since 2008 in developing countries like Burma, Bangladesh and Ghana. According to Hooman, some of his reasons for doing the work are to satisfy his curiosity, enhance his education and experience, adventure and, most importantly, a strong sense of duty.
“The experiences and the many emotions which were stirred in me were truly diverse , complex and life changing. Due to the shortage of equipment one very quickly learns to improvise. In these situations you have to do your best with what you have. The alternative is to do nothing! Most of all the experience of being able to help so many people who have no other access to care is truly humbling. It makes me realise what we have and how much we take for granted.”
He found that patients arrive at the surgery expecting very little but hoping for so much. Many present with irreversible visual impairment which could have been prevented by prompt medical attention. Most disturbing to him were the children with irreversible visual impairment. There is no hope of support or opportunity in their world. Fortunately there are many conditions which cause visual impairment that are completely reversible. Last year in Bangladesh he performed 92 cataract operations in 6 days. “This is life changing to people and the satisfaction one experiences in being able to help them is priceless!” says Hooman.
“The annual trip is the most exciting periods of my year which I plan and look forward to with huge enthusiasm and some trepidation. I am committed to continue these trips as long as I am fit and able to do so. Future destinations may be Sudan, Kenya or Bangladesh again.”