Mar 22 2011

Reflection on cataract surgery service trip to Qing Yuan with Green Action

Published by at 11:50 pm under 清城區,義工感想

 Reflection on cataract surgery service trip to Qing Yuan with Green Action

             If I am to use a word to describe the trip, I’d probably pick Eye-opening. In the trip,I worked as a volunteer for Green Action and alongside a outreach medical team from the New Hope Hospital to provide cataract surgery to impoverished villagers in Qing Yuan. It’s eye-opening for patients who were blinded by cataract for years and eye-opening for me as a medical student new to this part of China and its social and medical context, new to the surgery itself and to the whole process of setting up a clinic capable of handling hundreds of patients.

                I was lucky enough to work with experienced volunteers from Hong Kong as well as doctors and nurses in the medical team from China. By helping out in different steps of pre-operative care the patient went through through the post-operative examination and check-up, I realized just how much efforts and resources were needed to make the event possible.

                  In terms of medical knowledge, I got to appreciate the complexity of the pre-operative preparation, the surgery and post-operative care, thanks to the thoughtful arrangement by Green Action to let us rotate through the “stations”. It impressed me that all these complicated steps can be performed so smoothly on patients who are predominantly elderly with so limited resources! In particular, I was quite surprised to find that there were actually two operation tables on broad the cataract surgery bus. It followed stringent protocols and this was a mammoth’s task considering the limited space of operation theatre and the highly restricted stock of medical supplies that the bus can carry.

                  I also learnt the basics of taking care of blind people. At first, the patients seem to be very hesitant when I indicated to them to sit up or lie down. After some trials, I found out that it’s actually better off letting them touch the seat and judge the distance than to forcefully put them into a certain position. I fully understood why it’s so when I closed my eyes and asked a volunteer to guide me for a seat. I realized how true the statement “you never know how to be a doctor until you become the patient” is.

                    In terms of experience, I felt very deeply towards some of the people I met during the trip.

                    On the morning of the second day of the trip, patients who received surgery on the previous day came back for a follow up. An elderly man shouted out with joy when he was able to see the world again after being blinded by cataract for over 10 years. He was a totally different person as before the surgery! I remembered putting on shoes for him before the surgery because he was simply unable to locate them. After the surgery, he actually read out the print on his patient history form!  I shared his joy and felt that what was being done made a big difference to the patient and his family.

                    I was touched by the passion and love many of the volunteers felt for the villages whom they hardly know and yet they were serving them with care and efforts that some patients said to me “ You guys treated me better than my kids!” It was meant to be a compliment but I actually felt a bit sad when I heard this because I truly witnessed a general lack of concern of the younger generation for the elderly. I felt honored to be part of the team making a difference to the patients we served. The trip is really short and I missed all the dedicated people I met on the journey but life is like a play, it’s not the length but the excellence of the acting that matters.

Harmony To, HKU MBBS II

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