During the course of the three-day medical mission in Bahrabise, Nepal, the CHEERS team provided free medical treatment to over 2,000 Nepalis, with Dr. Kamal’s ophthalmic surgical team performing 38 cataract removal surgeries. Through generous donations made to Direct Relief’s Nepal disaster relief and rebuilding efforts, Direct Relief was able to provide funding for the CHEERS team to conduct additional medical missions all over Nepal. (Video by Mark Semegen and Daniel Burke)
In the aftermath of a devastating 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015, the staff at the Children’s Hospital for Eye, ENT and Rehabilitation Services, known as CHEERS, began sending teams of doctors on medical missions to areas that had been especially hard hit.
In Aug. 2016, Direct Relief and the Vaseline® Healing Project partnered with CHEERS to provide free medical assistance to the residents of Bahrabise, a small town close to the border of Tibet in the foothills of the Himalayas. With the earthquake and subsequent monsoons, landslides had closed the border crossing and the region’s economy was devastated as tourism dropped sharply after the earthquake.
The medical mission in Bahrabise took place over three days, with a team of American dermatologists, Dr. Grace Bandow and Dr. Samer Jaber, working alongside a team of Nepali doctors, pediatricians, ENTs, and ophthalmologists. As word spread of the doctors providing free medical treatment, patients from all over the region came to see the doctors, with some needing care traveling over eight hours across mountains and treacherous foot trails. Dr. Kamal Bahadur Khadka, a renowned Nepali ophthalmic surgeon who had recently joined the CHEERS team, performed cataract removal surgeries each afternoon. After the surgeries were performed, Dr. Kamal instructed the patients to return to the clinic the following morning to have their eye patches removed.
The next day, the Direct Relief team woke up early to watch the patients undergo their post-op evaluations. After the surgical team removed each patient’s gauze padding and washed their eyes with sterile drops, Dr. Kamal performed a vision check by holding up fingers from about 15 feet away. One by one, each patient discovered that they could see clearly again and that the full or partial blindness afflicting them for years was gone.