FV Hospital offers Charity corneal transplants to restore disadvantaged Patients’ Vision

To continue advocating social responsibility, on March 31st, FV Hospital held the press conference “Charity Corneal Transplants to Restore Disadvantaged Patients’ Vision in Cooperation with Singapore National Eye Center (SNEC)”, which received major media coverage. .

FV Hospital works with Singapore National Eye Center (SNEC) to provide free transplants for disadvantaged, vision-impaired patients

The corneal transplant surgery programme is overseen by Assoc. Prof. Jod Mehta, a world-leading corneal specialist from Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC). After several visits providing consultations and treating patients with corneal conditions at FV Hospital’s Ophthalmology Department, Dr Mehta found that many patients had damaged corneas. However, the high cost of surgery was a major obstacle for patients, compounded by the fact that resources to replace damaged corneas are very limited in Vietnam.

Dr Mehta decided to provide FV Hospital with information on advanced techniques to replace only the damaged or diseased parts of the cornea with donated healthy corneal tissue to restore a patient’s eyesight, instead of a full cornea transplant. This technique helps to lower the risk of rejection and extend the longevity of the graft.

FVH’s Chief Operating Officer Ms Pham Thi Thanh Mai explained that FV sources its corneas from the largest eye banks in the US and Singapore – two of five top international centres capable of providing the necessary conditions to obtain and preserve donated corneas. These centres only supply international hospitals staffed by ophthalmology specialists qualified to perform corneal transplant surgery.

FV Hospital is the first private hospital in Vietnam to import corneas and to perform cornea transplant surgeries with Ministry of Health approval. Ms Mai shared: “During this programme, FV Hospital will provide free corneal transplants to three patients at a total cost of around VND 960 million. The charity programme is divided into two phases, including a surgery on March 31 for patient Pham Van Quy (aged 54) and two in July 2018 for the two other patients, Tran Thi Phuong Thanh (aged 15, from Bac Lieu) and Nguyen Thi Hong Tham (aged 24, from Tien Giang). These patients were selected based on their financial needs and the highly complex nature of their diagnoses, factoring in potential complication risks.”

Mr. Pham Van Quy held a job as a cleaner in HCMC but was forced to stop working after he lost his eyesight two years ago due to a complication from glaucoma. Mr Quy’s free surgery was provided immediately following the press conference. After only one day, he was discharged from hospital and could go home before receiving his final check-up at FVH.

During the press conference, there was a surprise guest: a former patient of Dr Mehta’s, Ms Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tho, from Nha Trang, who came to express her deep gratitude to the doctor who performed her corneal transplant. Ms Ngoc Tho was visibly emotional as she exclaimed: “Thank you for helping me and restoring my eyesight!” She showed everyone the newspaper in which she had found the news that Dr Mehta would be back in Vietnam to attend the press conference at the end of March, explaining that she decided to attend herself and thank him again, in person.

Ms Tho – Nha Trang shares her experience and her gratitude to Dr Mehta

Towards the end of the conference, Dr Mehta mentioned that eye diseases are quite common here in Vietnam. Compared to other countries in Southeast Asia and in other parts of the world, Vietnamese people have a higher risk of diseases related to the cornea due to inflammation caused by the local surroundings, water and climate. Keratitis patients are often prescribed with antibiotics to treat the disease but with a high risk of corneal scarring. Scarring is also a consequence when a patient refuses to receive treatment.

Dr Mehta emphasised the considerable benefits of the latest techniques for corneal transplantation. He also suggested that patients with corneal conditions should consider this new technique – when only the damaged or diseased parts of the cornea are replaced with donated healthy corneal tissue – as it has a success rate of more than 95 per cent and almost zero risk of rejection when compared with traditional full replacement surgery.

An additional benefit: the recovery period is relatively short, ranging from one to three months, instead of the two-year recovery period for traditional full replacement surgery.

Assoc. Prof. Jod Mehta, a world-leading corneal specialist from Singapore National Eye Centre SNEC (centre); Dr Nguyen Thi Mai, FV Ophthalmology (first from left); Chief Operating Officer of FV Hospital Ms Pham Thi Thanh Mai (first from right)

To receive a consultation about this latest partial corneal replacement technique, please contact the Ophthalmology Department at FV Hospital, 6 Nguyen Luong Bang, Dist. 7, HCMC.

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