Supporting our partner surgeons in their humanitarian efforts is one way Saving Sight is able to honor the gift of sight. These partnerships offer the possibility for restored vision for those who otherwise would not have access to care.
Ukeme Umana, M.D., is a long standing partner of Saving Sight. Dr. Umana is currently the Refractive Surgery Specialist directing the Laser Refractive Institute of the Marion, Illinois Eye Centers.
Each year, Dr. Umana travels to Nigeria 1-2 times to perform corneal and cataract surgeries. He has been involved in the medical eye mission trips there since 1991, providing basic vision care for those underserved in the area. “Since 2012, I have been performing formal transplants,” he says. “I also go to Liberia, where I perform mainly glaucoma, cataract, and pterygium surgeries. Due to COVID-19, trips to Liberia have been suspended.”
“The most recent trip was to Nigeria in March 2021 where I performed 16 PKP surgeries in 3 days. One patient was 10 years old,” he says.
While transplants are a large part of the mission trips, Dr. Umana also takes time to train local physicians. There’s a substantial shortage of physicians with training in corneal transplantation in the area and an even greater shortage of eye tissue.
Saving Sight provides Dr. Umana with the corneal tissue for his trips. “Saving Sight has been a strong partner for corneal work. There’s no eye bank in Nigeria,” he adds.
To put this into perspective, there are about 50 million people in the region but no corneal surgeries are offered because there is not an eye bank in the country.
[Photos from Dr. Umana’s March 2021 Nigeria trip. Left: 10 year old transplant recipient.]