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East Timor visits prove life changing for medical staff and patients

East Timor visits prove life changing for medical staff and patients
PEH surgeon, Dr Dru Daniels, and Theatre Nurse, Brandi Mannion, recently returned from a trip to the National Eye Centre in East Timor where they spent several days performing surgery and passing on their knowledge to local staff.

Dr Daniels has been travelling to Dili for the past four years with his colleague, Dr Jean Louis de Sousa, and a team of nurses and assistants, to volunteer their support for the East Timor Eye Project (ETEP). Dr de Sousa, Dr Daniels, technician Mark Versaico and nurses Michelle Fisher and Brandi Mannion visited the National Eye Centre in late August. 

The passionate team completed 40 procedures – including surgery for cataracts and oculoplastics (also known as reconstructive eye surgery) – over two days.

“For the past decade, the ETEP has been working to develop an Eye Department in Dili, so that in time, the country can be self-sustaining to look after more than 1 million people with a varied range of eye conditions,” Dr Daniels said. 

“We are part way through that process and it is progressing well with many of the registrars completing their examinations and becoming surgically competent.” 

Brandi agreed describing the experience, her third time volunteering at the National Eye Centre, as rewarding and life changing.

“We have built a great rapport with the doctors and nurses there,” she said. “Each year we can see how much they are improving. We are very lucky with health care in Australia and the experience of making a difference in another country certainly makes you thankful for what we have.” 

The National Eye Centre team is led by senior Ophthalmologist, Dr Manoj Sharma, from Nepal. Dr Sharma said news of the team’s work on challenging surgical cases was broadcast on national TV in Timor Leste. The head of Dr Sharma’s department thanked supporters, including Perth Eye Hospital for their generous support donating much-needed medical supplies.

Perth Eye Hospital CEO, Andrea Le Guier, congratulated all involved on their incredible efforts. 

“The East Timor Eye Project gives us all an opportunity to contribute – whether it be providing clinicians, medical consumables or education,” she said. “The Perth Eye Hospital, our staff and suppliers are very proud to be associated with this project.”


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