Eye Surgery Patients Thrilled After Life-Changing Care from Continuing Promise Docs
By Dialogo November 14, 2008ARIMA, Trinidad and Tobago – As another chapter comes to a close on the Continuing Promise (CP) 2008 mission, medical personnel embarked aboard USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) returned to the Armina District Health Clinic to assess the progress of patients who received eye surgery aboard the ship Oct. 28 – Nov. 5. Patients and physicians were pleased with the results. “I really can't believe how much my eyesight has improved,” said Swarajie Mahabir, the first Trinidadian patient to receive eye surgery aboard Kearsarge. “From far away I couldn't even see how many fingers the doctors were holding up, now I have no problem reading the eye chart.” Mahabir suffered from cataracts. After surgery, her eyesight improved to 20/30, a drastic change from being unable to read an eye chart. “We saw a major improvement from all the patients,” said Cmdr. Brian Alexander, the ophthalmologist who performed the eye surgeries aboard Kearsarge. “One patient who was literally blinded by cataracts can now walk on her own. Another man was able to see 20/20 only two days after his surgery. It's a great feeling to see the impact we made.” Through the shipboard surgeries, Kearsarge was able to provide critical eye care to Trinidadian patients quickly and at no cost. “Eye surgery is available in Trinidad, however, there is a very long waiting list,” said Alexander. “Over time, cataracts become worse until patients develop a serious condition. We also see a lot of patients who simply cannot afford the care they need.” During their time in Trinidad and Tobago, Kearsarge medical personnel were able to treat over 5,700 patients, including 47 shipboard surgeries. Of those surgeries, 16 were for the treatment of cataracts. “I was very impressed by how well I was treated,” said Mahabir. “There were so many doctors and nurses who were all willing to help, and I just can't thank them enough.” Kearsarge is supporting the Caribbean phase of CP, a joint effort among the United States, partner nations and non-government organizations to provide humanitarian assistance to South American countries. CP will provide medical, dental, and engineering assistance in response to host nation requests and requirements. The CP mission exemplifies the U.S. maritime strategy, and emphasizes deploying forces to build confidence, and trust among nations. The CP Caribbean Phase is the second of two deployments to the Southern Command area of focus for 2008. The first deployment was conducted by USS Boxer (LHD 4) in the Pacific.