At first glance, it is an ordinary ‘plane - at first sight only, because this McDonnell Douglas DC-10 is actually a flying ophthalmic hospital (‘‘Flying Eye Hospital’’). Inside the aircraft, a gift from the American company FedEx, there is a real operating theatre, laser eye treatment unit, recovery room, and training room.
Noting that there were 39 million blind people in the world, but that 80% of them might not have been if they had received appropriate care, Dr. David Paton went on a crusade. Together with a group of doctors and volunteer pilots, the American ophthalmologist launched the Orbis project in 1982.
Four to five times a year, the New York based NGO, Orbis International, travels the world to help disadvantaged people to see again, by treating cataracts, glaucoma and other problems of the cornea.
Since its inception, Orbis’ flying hospital has landed in 78 developing countries, and on average, the DC10, which is soon be replaced by an MD10, a modernised version of the present aircraft, stays at each destination from two to four weeks. In 2013 alone, the ‘plane was used to train 22,000 doctors and nurses, carry out more than 75,000 eye operations onboard, and treat more than six million people. A wonderful way to change the view of the world around us, but at a cost. In 2013, the NGO’s global budget was 157 million dollars; all paid for out of donations received from individuals, corporations, US government and a number of foundations for instance.
For donations to Orbis International : https://donate.orbis.org/