Dr. Ply will be headed to Ecuador in May as part of a volunteer trip for SEE International, a global humanitarian organization. According to the SEE website:
SEE International provides sustainable medical, surgical, and educational services through volunteer ophthalmic surgeons with the objectives of restoring sight and preventing blindness to disadvantaged individuals worldwide.
Below is our Q & A with Dr. Ply on his past experience with SEE International, how he got involved, and the upcoming trip.
Q) How did you get involved with See International?
A) SEE stands for Surgical Eye Expeditions, which is a group of about 650 ophthalmologists internationally in 75 countries that volunteer their time and talents to restore sight to indigent and poor people in many countries around the world that could not otherwise afford to have eye care.
I became interested in helping when I discovered how much good this agency does around the world. Several years ago I took a trip to Peru with my daughter (a nurse) in order to provide cataract surgery to about 50 people who were either blind or who had very poor vision.
It is very gratifying to know that you are making such a wonderfully positive impact in peoples lives that have a very difficult time trying to function. These are very poor people who have to deal with so many challenges in their country to begin with, including how to feed their family or pay for basic education, water, or power. Without suitable vision their plight is dire. With good vision they have a chance to make their lives better.
Q) Where will you be going for this trip and what kind of work will you be doing?
,My next trip in May 2016 will be to Guayaquil, Ecuador where I expect to perform at least 50 cataract procedures and perhaps other eye surgeries as well. The week I am there is coordinated through SEE so that I will work with a local ophthalmologist, using his operating room and technician but with supplies that are donated from US medical companies such as Alcon and others. I volunteer my time and pay for travel, and will stay at the home of the local ophthalmologist in town.
Q) What was your last trip experience like?
A) My last trip was memorable in so many ways. The very 1st surgical patient I remember was 18 years old with very dense cataracts, apparently due to previous infections or possibly previous head trauma. She was led in by her grandmother, as she really had no useful vision. I operated on her 1st eye one day and her 2nd eye the next day.
When her eye patch was removed the next day and she opened her eyes, she broke into tears and began to cry, then she hugged me and thanked us over and over again. It was very impactful for both of us! There were many other similar stories. You really feel at the end of a trip like this that you were able to make a big difference in many peoples lives. I think that if we are able to do this, it is an obligation to give back and to help people that we can help. I believe that this is what God would want us to do.
To find out more about SEE International and volunteer your time please visit: http://www.seeintl.org/.