India and Rwanda

Dear Friends,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your past support of the Fiat Lux Foundation and to bring you up to date on some of the Foundation's recent activities and upcoming plans. In February of this year, I traveled once again to Jodhpur, India, to personally deliver much needed equipment and supplies to the Tarabai Desai Eye Hospital. In addition to a stock of intraocular lens implants and glaucoma drainage devices, I presented the hospital with a Haag-Streit slit lamp and a Humphrey ophthalmic ultrasound. The slit lamp will be used many times every day by clinic doctors to examine patients' eyes and measure intraocular pressures. The ultrasound unit will be invaluable in the preoperative workup of patients about to undergo cataract surgery, enabling the doctors to choose the correct power lens implant to give patients optimal vision.

  Ultrasound being used to measure a patient's eye before cataract surgery.

Ultrasound being used to measure a patient's eye before cataract surgery.

In June, using donated funds, we were pleased to procure for the hospital a steam sterilizer from a local supplier. Up until now, the hospital did not have an acceptable method for sterilizing surgical instruments; instruments were sterilized only once at the end of the operating day. This deficiency exposed patients to the risk of developing postoperative eye infections as well as systemic viral infections such as HIV and hepatitis. The sterilizer will enable the hospital to bring its sterilization methods up to international standards.

The Fiat Lux Foundation's next project will be in Africa. I have had the pleasure of working closely with Dr. Wanjiku Mathenge on a previous volunteer surgical trip. Dr. Mathenge is a Kenyan ophthalmologist who recently received her Ph.D. in international ophthalmology from the University of London. She has an ambitious plan for building an eye hospital in Rwanda, a country of 10 million people in east Africa. Among the challenges in eye care delivery in Rwanda are the small number of eye care personnel at all levels, the quality of training and services offered, and the low productivity of existing surgeons. Dr. Mathenge's proposed Rwanda International Institute of Ophthalmology (RIIO) aims to address most of these issues and set a foundation for quality comprehensive eye care for this part of Africa.

  Dr. Tayeri with Dr. Wanjiku Mathenge in Nakuru, Kenya, 2003.

Dr. Tayeri with Dr. Wanjiku Mathenge in Nakuru, Kenya, 2003.

The project will run on a model that was successfully tested at the LV Prasad Eye Institute, a center of Excellence in India. Once established, the project will become self-sustaining and will not rely on external funding or expertise.

Dr. Mathenge has invited me to Kigali both to perform surgery and to help train their doctors on how to perform modern cataract and glaucoma surgery. I am planning a trip in Spring 2012 and would like to take some vital equipment, such as an operating microscope and a phacoemulsifier (an instrument that is used to remove cataracts from the eye). The equipment will be left in Rwanda and used by Dr. Mathenge and other local surgeons to help bring sight to thousands of patients over the coming years. Your continued donations will help ensure the success of this endeavor.

Thomas Tayeri, M.D.