Sunday, January 23, 2011

Orbis International

Orbis International
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Orbis International
Albert Lee Ueltschi,Betsy Trippe DeVecci,Thomas Knight, David Paton
Non-Government Organization
Key people
Geoffrey Holland (Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer), Mohan Jacob Thazhathu, Chief Operating Officer
Area served
86 countries
Eliminating Preventable Blindness
(CY 2007) US$ 60,773,005
Saving Sight Worldwide
Orbis International is an international non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Orbis programs focus on the prevention of blindness and the treatment of blinding eye diseases in developing countries. Since 1982, Orbis capacity-building programs have enhanced the skills of more than 195,000 eye care personnel and provided eye care treatment to more than 6.8 million people in 86 countries.
Orbis is best known for its "Flying Eye Hospital," an ophthalmic hospital and teaching facility located onboard a DC-10 jet aircraft. Orbis volunteer pilots fly the plane and its international medical team to developing countries around the world to teach urgently needed sight-saving skills. Local patients receive free treatment during this training.
Orbis is headquartered in New York, with offices in Toronto, London, Dublin, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai, Kunming, Taipei, Addis Ababa, Delhi, Dhaka and Hanoi.
In addition to the Flying Eye Hospital, Orbis operates hospital-based programs in several countries and works with local medical research and health-care organizations on blindness prevention and eye disease treatment. An Orbis telemedicine program called "Cyber-Sight" uses the Internet to connect ophthalmologists for one-on-one collaboration and mentoring.
Orbis is a founding partner, along with the World Health Organization, of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, "a worldwide concerted effort designed to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020."
Orbis is a registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible non-profit charity in the United States.

Orbis was founded in 1982 with a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and a number of private donors. The first Flying Eye Hospital was a Douglas DC-8 (N220RB) donated by United Airlines. In its first two years of operation, the Orbis DC-8 visited 24 countries and held programs emphasizing the hands-on transfer of surgical skills.
By the late 1980s, as replacement parts for the aging DC-8 became more difficult and expensive to obtain, it became clear that a newer, larger aircraft was needed. Funded by private donations, Orbis purchased its current DC-10-10 in 1992. The DC-10-10 contained twice the interior space of the original DC-8. After two years of conversion and renovation, it was placed in service in 1994, and the DC-8 was retired and donated to Datangshan museum near Beijing. That summer, the new Flying Eye Hospital took off on its inaugural mission to Beijing, China.
The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital
The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital is a DC-10-10 model, and was the second DC-10 aircraft built, in 1970. It was used as a test aircraft by McDonnell Douglas, and then was acquired for passenger service by Laker Airways. It then passed through several hands before its acquisition by Orbis in 1992 for $14 million, which registered it as N220AU.
The Orbis DC-10 on the tarmac at Trujillo Peru, February 2009
Conversion of the aircraft took 18 months and cost a further $15 million. The work was performed by Mobile Aerospace Engineering, Inc. in Mobile, Alabama. It was re-launched on May 7, 1994, and its first operational mission was to Beijing, China on July 23, 1994.
Examination and laser treatment suite inside the Flying Eye Hospital
In addition to the flight deck, the aircraft contains (from forward to aft) a classroom, an audio-visual room, a laser treatment room, an operating room, a recovery room, and farthest aft, the communications center. The operating room was placed in the center of the aircraft in order to be the most stable location in case of bad weather at the location.
Operating room inside the Flying Eye Hospital
The classroom accommodates 48 students, generally host-country ophthalmologists, who can watch surgery as it is performed in the operating room. The classroom is also used for lectures and discussions by Orbis teaching staff.
Inside the audio-visual room are the controls for the 16 cameras, eight microphones and 54 television monitors. These permit viewing of surgery in the classroom and elsewhere on and off the aircraft. Surgical procedures are recorded, edited and duplicated onboard so that a record of the procedures taught during each program can be donated to the host-country ophthalmic community.
The laser treatment room contains laser-based diagnostic tools and laboratory stations for use with animal-eye surgical practice training.
The lower deck (belly) of the aircraft contains an equipment laboratory and technical center where Orbis biomedical engineers teach host-country technicians how to maintain and repair ophthalmological equipment.
On April 7, 2008, Orbis announced it would replace its current DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital with a DC-10 Series 30 freighter. United Airlines, with the support of FedEx, is donating the airplane to Orbis. The $2 million donation is based on the plane’s estimated value and is being funded equally by United and FedEx.
Other programs
In addition to the Flying Eye Hospital, Orbis operates permanent programs with local partners in several countries. As of 2008, these included Bangladesh (in conjunction with Islamia Eye Hospital), China, Ethiopia, India, Latin America and Vietnam. Orbis coordinates multi-year projects focusing on the prevention and treatment of the regions’ most prevalent eye diseases.
In each country, Orbis works with its local partner institutions to increase their capacity to provide comprehensive, affordable and sustainable eye care services over the long term. The programs include developing specialized hospital facilities, eye banks, patient and health care worker training, and prevention and treatment programs.
Orbis also operates short-term, hospital-based training and specialized treatment programs in places where it is not possible to land the DC-10 aircraft.

This page was last modified on 22 August 2010 at 19:17.