When I was offered the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua as part of a mission trip, I jumped at the chance. After serving on missions to Jamaica and India, I knew the incredible impact my surgical skills could have on the lives of patients who would otherwise end up blind. Just a few minutes with our team could change the course of the rest of their lives and to us, being able to give people their sight back, one of the most precious of senses, was an incredible privilege.
Last year, myself and several other colleagues with a thousand pounds of surgical equipment in tow, boarded a plane with a single mission: to perform cataract surgery and restore eyesight to the indigent people in Managua, Nicaragua; people with only a rudimentary eye care facility and without the finances to pay for such a procedure.
For four days, our team of surgeons and scrub techs performed 150 cataract surgeries and four trabeculectomies. It was four, extremely long and difficult days, but I feel as though I got more out of the experience than they did. The expression on patients’ faces the day their eye patches were removed is something I’ll never forget. The amazement, the joy, the tears and hugs was almost spiritual. I couldn’t always understand their prayers or their outbursts of appreciation, but their faces and actions said what words could not. Being able to restore someone’s sight is a joy I get to experience every day as a doctor. And my mission trips are experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world.