In March 2010, Dr. Sadeer Hannush, Medical Director of the Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley, traveled to Kenya, Africa, to teach state-of-the-art vision restoration procedures to Kenyan hospital physicians.
Dr. Hannush generously volunteered his time to this humanitarian effort and used cornea tissue donated by the Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley to make the gift of sight a reality for more than 20 patients.
Dr. Hannush screened approximately sixty patients, some who traveled 18 hours in the hopes of receiving care. He was especially concerned about patients who had bilateral eye disease for whom a cornea transplant would make a major improvement in their quality of life. The predominant diagnosis was keratoconus, an irregularly shaped cornea. Young people in Kenya have severe allergies (atopic disease) that cause eye rubbing and lead to aggressive keratoconus.
In a culture where expression is not a typical characteristic, a 14-year-old Kipsigis boy found himself overwhelmed with joy that he could see. The first day after his surgery, he insisted upon reading the eye chart over and over to the employees of Tenwek Hospital. This experience made an everlasting impression on Dr. Hannush.
Dr. Hannush happily accepted the opportunity to do international mission work and serve patients from other countries who do not have access to care they desperately need. He was grateful for the invitation from Tenwek Hospital, which organized the humanitarian mission. During the trip, Dr. Hannush was accompanied by his 17-year-old daughter, Monica, who assisted him during clinic and also volunteered in the maternity ward and orphanage.
"I cannot say enough about my patients at Tenwek Hospital," said Dr. Hannush. "As they explained to me, they are very proud people who are very sensitive about accepting gifts. However, they realize they must accept some gifts because their personal resources are limited and they, like all parents, want to improve the lives of their children. Knowing I was also a parent, with my daughter Monica by my side, was probably comforting to them. They knew I would understand asking for assistance on behalf of your children. They were so appreciative, and I know they will be good stewards of the gift of sight brought to them and their families."