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To Dr. Jordana Fein, it was simply a matter of using her skills as an eye surgeon to help people in need. For the people in the town of Comayagua in Honduras, it was a miracle that allowed more than two dozen villagers—all of whom were blinded from cataracts/some at an early age—to finally see their family members and friends for the first time in their lives.
The week-long trip was in conjunction with the Virginia Hospital Center’s Medical Brigade’s annual effort to improve the health of communities in Honduras by providing services that are currently unavailable there and in many other third world countries. In participating in the VHCMB for the first time, Dr. Fein joined a pediatric ophthalmologist, an OBGYN and a urologist in using four operating rooms in a hospital that is only open when visiting medical personnel come to offer treatment to members of the community. She estimates screening more than 50 patients and performing close to 30 surgeries on men and women of all ages, including a six-year-old boy who at age two was discovered in a rural area and diagnosed with bilateral cataracts.
According to Dr. Fein, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the developing world. She described the medical mission as “one of the hardest, but clearly one of the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.” She takes great pride in having traveled so far to give the gift of sight back to these people who had lived all or most of their lives in darkness.
The Virginia Hospital Centre’s Medical Brigade is a 501(c)(3) and USAID PVO registered organization founded in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch destroyed much of Central America, especially Honduras. The group’s initial efforts were to provide disaster relief with subsequent endeavors focused on offering curative services. In more recent years, the Brigade has added programs that support sustainable community development interventions and reduce the impact of preventable diseases on vulnerable populations. More details and information on volunteering for or donating to the organization can be found at www.vhcmedicalbrigade.org.