Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Flying hospital helps give the gift of sight. (With Video)

MEMPHIS, TN - Doctors and nurses from the Mid-South are helping people around the world with eye problems.

ORBIS International and their eye care professionals and aviation staff are able to save the eyesight of millions of people around the world. They said none of this would be possible without the flying eye hospital.

The world's only aircraft with a fully functional eye hospital on board landed in Memphis Wednesday as part of the North American Goodwill Tour.

Sponsored by FedeEx, ORBIS International is a nonprofit humanitarian organization that works to save eyesight around the world .

"We train nurses, doctors and optometrists all in this area," said ORBIS Associate Director of Nursing Heather Machin. "We are also doing live surgery for the patients that have been selected."

ORBIS doctors work to provide the necessary skills for quality eye care to doctors in developing countries.

"Very interesting for us when we go back to a country that we've already been working in, you're able to actually see them implement the teachings and the training that we've been able to establish a year or two years prior," said Flying Hospital Communications Manager Perry Athanason.

According to ORBIS, over 39 million people are blind and about 80 percent of those vision impairment cases are preventable or treatable.

In addition to a $5.3 million cash donation, FedEx announced they will donate an MD-10 cargo aircraft to ORBIS to be converted into a new flying eye hospital.

Director of Aircraft Operations Bruce Johnson said the Goodwill Tour is about showing sponsors that their donations are indispensable.

"This is something tangible that they can actually see, unlike a lot of non-profits where you donate something and you never know what happens, you can actually see there is something that's being done," said Johnson.

All ORBIS International pilots train in Memphis at the FedEx simulator. They reportedly all volunteer to fly on the sight-saving missions.

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