A total 33 eye surgeries were completed on Christmas Island over the New Year’s holiday, thanks to the compassion and willingness of PIMA volunteer ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Jorizzo, of Medford Oregon, who agreed on short notice to help us get the job done.
‘We are enormously grateful to Dr. Jorizzo and his assistant William Lee who dropped everything at the last moment and flew with us to Christmas Island to complete the job of eye surgeries on patients we had to leave behind two months earlier when our surgeon became ill,” PIMA president Carlton Smith said.
Many patients had been brought to Christmas Island from the outer islands in Kiribati and had been waiting for our return, he said.
“It is our hope that Dr. Jorizzo and his fellow ophthalmologists at the Medical Eye Center in Medford will now be able to return to the Line Islands in Kiribati on a regular basis to deal with the blinding cataracts so many islanders suffer from,” Smith said.
Dr. Jorizzo was recommended to Pacific Islands Medical Aid by our partner in eye care, Surgical Eye Expeditions, International (SEE) of Santa Barbara, California, when we were unable to complete our list of surgeries on the island in late October because our volunteer eye surgeon became ill and had to return home early.
SEE not only recommended a surgeon, but also provided cataract lenses, medicines, medical supplies and equipment to help us get the job done, Smith said.
More than 190 eye surgeries have been completed by PIMA ophthalmologists in the last 18 months in the isolated central Pacific region of the Line Islands, Kiribati.