Leading eyecare charity Orbis, with generous support from FedEx, has launched its first surgical programme since 2020 onboard the Flying Eye Hospital – a fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital onboard a plane. Now in its third week, Orbis' clinical staff and Volunteer Faculty (medical experts) are providing in-person, hands-on training to 52 eyecare professionals, including ophthalmologists, nurses, biomedical engineers and anaesthetists from the Can Tho region, building their skills to treat the leading causes of blindness and visual impairment in their own communities.

This marks the twelfth time the Flying Eye Hospital has held a training project in Vietnam, including one virtual project on Cybersight, Orbis' electronic healthcare platform. During this project, eyecare participants developed their skills through a combination of simulation and hands-on training, as well as customised virtual learning courses before the plane arrived in Vietnam. Training activities took place on the Flying Eye Hospital, currently located at the Can Tho International Airport, and at two partner hospitals, Can Tho Maxillo Dental and Eye Hospital and Can Tho Children's Hospital.



The first week of the project was dedicated to simulation training, allowing participants to grow their confidence in a training environment before moving on to surgeries, resulting in better care for patients. The last two weeks of the project focused on surgical training, where participants had hands-on, real-life experience with world-class medical professionals.

The first patient on the Flying Eye Hospital was five-year-old Han. Since birth, Han suffered from a drooping eyelid (congenital ptosis), which obstructed vision in her left eye. One year ago, Han had surgery to repair her eyelid at another hospital. Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful and she needed a follow-up procedure.

Last week, Dr H Joon Kim, an Orbis Volunteer Faculty oculoplastic specialist from Atlanta, Georgia, USA performed Han's eyelid-lifting surgery on the Flying Eye Hospital. Assisted and observed by two Vietnamese ophthalmologists, Dr Tu Ngo The Thanh and Dr Nhan Truong Nguyen Trong, after their training earlier in the programme. The surgery was successful, and Han's vision was restored.

Han was accompanied by her mother Load who said: "I was just so thankful for the doctors who helped my daughter. It was a wonderful moment. My girl is dreaming of becoming a doctor in the future.”



Participants in the programme trained in paediatric cataracts, and strabismus as well as adult glaucoma, oculoplastics, and medical retina. This project will complement Orbis' ongoing work throughout the country and further Orbis Vietnam's ultimate goal: to fill the gaps and address the needs of local health personnel and contribute to the National Blindness Prevention Strategy, which was approved by the Prime Minister in 2016.

"We are so grateful to FedEx for not only sponsoring this program in Vietnam but also standing side by side with us for more than thirty years in the fight against avoidable vision loss around the world," said Ngoc Pham, County Director of Orbis Vietnam. "FedEx has played an indispensable role in helping Orbis carry out our mission, including donating the current MD-10 aircraft that serves as the third-generation Flying Eye Hospital."

FedEx has supported Orbis in its mission for over three decades and through more than US$22 million in donations and in-kind shipping. In 2021, FedEx announced its renewed commitment to Orbis' sight-saving mission with a US$3.5 million donation to help provide financial, logistical, and operational support to the organisation and its Flying Eye Hospital over the following five years. In addition to providing aircraft parts, maintenance, and pilot training, the FedEx-donated MD-10 is flown by FedEx pilots who volunteer their time to navigate the plane around the world to Orbis projects. The sponsorship of this project in Vietnam is part of the FedEx Cares 50 by 50 campaign to positively impact 50 million people around the world by the company's fiftieth birthday this year.



"FedEx is proud to play a role in the global fight against avoidable blindness. As we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary this year, FedEx has been positively impacting lives and creating a Better World through connecting people to more possibilities. We are committed to using our resources and our network to help address the social and economic needs of those in need in our local communities." said Ee-Hui Tan, Managing Director, FedEx Express Vietnam and Cambodia.

Orbis is grateful for its partnership with Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) and Can Tho International Airport for their support. ACV has generously provided a secure location for the Flying Eye Hospital for the duration of the three-week project, a critical component to safely treat patients and train eye care teams.