Cataract patients turned down for public hospital surgery and unable to fund their own can now have their cataracts treated for free thanks to the generosity of surgeons working under the umbrella of the Auckland Regional Charity Hospital (ARCH).
ARCH has been running for eight years and provides a range of free elective surgery and medical outpatient clinics. It operates out of established private facilities which allow its volunteer surgeons to use their operating theatres either at cost or at no charge.
Optometrists, GPs and ophthalmologists can refer qualifying patients to ARCH for consideration for free cataract surgery, provided they:
- Have evidence of having been denied access to public hospital cataract surgery
- Have a visually-significant cataract with a compassionate need for cataract surgery (eg. have lost, or are about to lose their drivers licence, will soon be unable to work, etc.)
- have no possibility of affording private cataract surgery
Auckland ophthalmologist Dr Trevor Gray is championing the cause and trying to muster up support from ophthalmology and optometry colleagues across New Zealand. ARCH is inviting cataract surgeons throughout the country to consider offering 20 minutes of their time and skills pro bono to help needy cataract patients in the convenient and familiar environments of their own cataract theatres, he said.
“Just imagine what a positive impact this could have if the majority of ophthalmologists offered to help just one such cataract patient in their community every month! Patients who have qualified and received pro bono cataract surgery under ARCH support have understandably been hugely appreciative and so very grateful to ARCH and all the individuals (nurses, anaesthetists and surgeons) who have made this a life-changing reality for them.”There are a number of other generous Kiwi ophthalmologists who have also answered the call to help including Dr Gray’s colleague at Re:Vision, Dr Mo Ziaei; Milford Eye Clinic Drs Brian Sloan and Jo Kloppers; Eye Specialists’ Drs Brian Kent-Smith and Chris Murphy; and specialists from Auckland Eye. “There are likely to be many more ophthalmologists around New Zealand who don’t mind giving up about a quarter of an hour of their time in their own operating theatres to help their own local community in this positively impactful way,” said Dr Gray.
Asked why he was offering his services for no financial reward, he said, “The real question is ‘Why not?’ I, like all my colleagues have operating lists where it would be next to no hassle to add an extra case once or twice a month. We all know that there is a significant unmet need for cataract surgery services in New Zealand, so ARCH is a perfect third party organisation to match needy patients with generous surgeons close to where they live.
“I have long been in awe of so many of my ophthalmology and optometry colleagues who have donated their skills and time to benefit others for no financial (but meaningful personal) return. One only needs to look at VOSO, EyeCare for Africa, Fred Hollows Foundation and similar philanthropic activities to see what I mean.”ARCH is currently in the process of refining referral and pro bono cataract surgery logistics to cope with a larger number of patients, so it’s expected to take another three to six months to iron out some early-stage gremlins.
As a charitable trust ARCH is entirely dependent upon volunteers and donations for its survival. To find out more, to refer qualifying cataract patients or to get involved, visit http://www.aucklandcharityhospital.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.