Orbis’ new DC-10 delivering better vision worldwide

orbis dc-10
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Orbis DC-10

It may not have ever been etched in stone, but it seems appropriate to begin with an aphorism:

The Capacity of Mankind
to do good
may only limited by
one’s vision.

The Orbis project demonstrates that a group of good-hearted people can do much by creatively using aviation to improve eyesight around the world.

The need = 285,000,000 people around the world live with impaired sight and 80% of those problems can be prevented or cured. The eyes are an essential sense to work, to read, to enjoy life. North America and Europe, for example have the medical knowledge and technology to restore this elementary human need.

In the 1970s somehow a group of aviation leaders and medical professionals got together and conceived of the idea to use an aircraft to spread better vision. They recognized that there were barriers to bring the doctors and nurses from where the need was greatest; so the team decided to bring a mobile, teaching hospital to them.

With help from USAID and many private donors a DC-8 was retrofitted as a hospital. Volunteers (400+), people who were experts in the latest ophthalmic techniques, including pediatric ophthalmology, agreed to donate their time, skill and training to fly to developing countries. The hands-on training and lectures left their “students” with the ability to elevate the level of eye care for their needy patients.

By 1992 the four engine Douglas jet was no longer capable of being maintained; so Orbis bought a DC-10 which was converted to an ophthalmic teaching & operating facility. As with all old aircraft, that bird reached its useful life and the 3rd generation flying Orbis was commissioned.

This newest edition was donated by FedEx. Its new interior includes the best of ophthalmic and pedagogical technology—the latest in avionics, hospital engineering, featuring a modular design, 3D filming technology and live broadcast capabilities. Now, the Orbis team can extend the breadth of their knowledge sharing from just the on board students to professionals who cannot come to the DC-10.

It is the only non-land-based hospital in the world that is U.S. accredited by the AAAASFI (American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities International). The Orbis medical “curriculum” starts with cataracts—the world’s leading cause of avoidable blindness—to refractive errors, diabetes-related conditions, glaucoma, strabismus and more.

Dr. Daniel Neely, Orbis volunteer pediatric ophthalmic surgeon and Medical Advisor explained, “The new technologies on the Flying Eye Hospital such as the 3D broadcast technology of the surgical microscope allow us as teachers to share, train and interact with more of our colleagues in the developing world, giving a deeper and richer learning environment to transfer the skills to their practice. Most exciting, we are able to continue the mentorship relationships long after the plane has moved on via Cybersight—our telemedicine portal.”

Here’s a brief walk through of the new plane:

orbis dc-10


The 48 seat classroom for lectures and for watching the 3-D telecast of operations.

orbis dc-10


Laser and examination room—some of the procedures can be done in this non-sterile section.

orbis dc-10


The OR, which is heavily equipped with cameras for teaching and is located in the most stable section of the plane- the wing.

orbis dc-10


The recovery room.

orbis dc-10


Post Op—SMILES!!!

orbis dc-10


The alumni of Orbis now providing better care for their patients!!!

orbis dc-10


Where Orbis does its good works.

orbis dc-10


The new DC-10 and the operational costs depend on donations; here is the link if you would like to contribute.

After its showcase in Los Angeles, the Flying Eye Hospital will visit five additional U.S. locations—New York, Washington, D.C, Memphis, Dallas and Sacramento—this summer to offer people the opportunity to experience the new plane, to learn about Orbis and to find out about how they, too, can be a part of this global health effort. The Flying Eye Hospital will then depart to Asia to conduct its inaugural program in Shenyang, China this September.

Indeed, the founders of Orbis used their vision to GREAT GOOD.


ARTICLE: LAX: Orbis Unveils New Plane and Technology

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