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 Reports of Trips to the Thai/Myanmar Border

The Mae Tao clinic is in Mae Sot, Thailand, on the border with Myanmar(Burma) and aims to provide much needed medical care to the marginalized Burmese refugees living at a number of camps along the border. Dr Frank  Green

(Consultant Ophthalmologist, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary) and Dr Philip Ambler (GP and clinical assistant in Ophthalmology, Oxford) first provided eye care in 1990 with regular short visits. Upon retirement in 2011, Dr Green was  able to spend 35 weeks per year at the Mae Tao clinic. Sadly, Dr Green died in 2019. The work was continued by Dr Ambler and the Karenaid charity set up to support it and a second clinic has been opened at San Jae Dee. Now Karenaid has handed over the funding of both clinics to Fiona's Eye Fund. 

Report April 2022 
Mae Sot Clinic, Thailand on the border with Myanmar. Dr Lai-Yeung Ngai and Dr Simon Hewick
Saturday, 23rd April - Tuesday 26th
Total operations completed was 109 out of 126 listed. The road from the MTC into MaeSot was manned by Thai Police for 2-3 days which may have prevented entry/re entry for some of the patients. It was sad to leave, with the remaining post-ops happy to pose for pictures and bid us farewell. 

San Jae Dee Clinic Wednesday, 27th- Friday 29th
Total of operations completed was 52. The plight of these patients was highlighted by one patient who had suffered a fractured wrist, but she had decided to travel the 5 days in order to see us, and despite this wanted to have her cataract surgery before heading back to Burma to have her wrist treated and plastered. She must have been in pain throughout. We carefully prioritised her case and treated her cataract upon diagnosis. She was then transferred back to Burma                                                                   Read More

Cataract operation

Report April 2019

Thai/Myanmar border 2019 Dr Lai-Yeung Ngai, Dr Simon Hewick

San Jae Dee Clinic. We saw 200 patients in the first week. The second week was marred by fighting between the Mon army and the Burmese army which caused closure of the Border at Three Pagodas Pass. Two patients were brought in by a volunteer medic, who had come upon these patients whilst at her local temple. The elderly, frail gentleman was blind and had no relatives. He was living at the temple and would have had no means to access health care. Another elderly lady was dependent on her widowed daughter for all her care, and her blindness had rendered her housebound. They both had dense, white cataracts. We performed cataract surgery on both; and the benefits were immediate on removal of the dressings the next day; the gentleman was able to read, and we could prescribe reading glasses to help improve his quality of life and independence. Our aim is to try and continue Dr Green’s work: with repeated visits and an established team, we are hoping to replicate the trust that Dr Green was able to build with these communities and to provide a sustainable, much needed eye service to the migrants/refugees along the Thai/Burmese border.          Read More

Dr Lai and Dr Philip Ambler

Report May 2017
Mae Tao clinic, Thailand on the border with Myanmar (Burma) Dr Lai-Yeung Ngai and Dr Simon Hewick
The new Mae Tao clinic is in Mae Sot, Thailand, on the border with Myanmar(Burma) and aims to provide much needed medical care to the marginalized Burmese refugees living at a number of camps along the border.

In week 1  we listed 66 patients for cataract surgery.  It was a steep learning curve, again, with adjustments required with the instruments available and the differing anatomy of the eye.  I performed 11 cataract operations and 1 chalazion, Dr Hewick performed 14 cataract extractions.
In week 2 the rainy season started with a ‘bang’ of thunder:  I acted as scrub nurse to Dr Hewick, and Dr Hewick did the same for me. It worked well, as it meant that two operating tables could be maintained. 
We saw 116 patients, 102 new, and 14 return patients. I  complete9 cataracts and 2 chalazion operations and Dr Hewick performed 17 cataract extractions, 3 chalazion excisions, 2 ptergia and autografts and 1 orbital exploration.  I would like to thank the trustees of the Fiona Dolan fund for their sponsoring of the trip and giving us the opportunity to help care for and try to improve the lives of those in need.              

Dr Hewick operating

Report  August 2016 

Dr Lai-Yeung Ngai and Dr Simon Hewick
Week 1: Mae Tao Clinic, Thailand. We were referred approximately 70 patients and listed 50 patients for surgery to commence the following day. Because of the great distances and expense the patients have to bear, all assessments (refraction, biometry) was performed on the day, again requiring effective teamwork….. Between Monday and Thursday, we saw 117 new patients, and approximately 30 return patients. Performed 53 cataract extractions, 11 pterygium removals, 1 trabeculectomy, 4 chalazion drainages, 1 ptosis repair, 2 eviscerations and 1 wound exploration.
Week 2: The week began with truly challenging conditions with heavy rain most days, making travel and access to the clinic difficult for us and the patients. Therefore we only saw 36 patients, and performed 20 cataracts and 2 pterygiums in 3 days. Overall, I performed 23 SICS, 3 pterygium excisions and autografts, and 3 chalazion drainage operations. I witnessed and experienced firsthand the practicalities of performing ‘high volume’ surgery, in basic but optimized conditions, and saw how it was possible to set-up a cataract operating unit in very basic, rural conditions and still maintaining high standards of care.  

Dr Lai operating

Report Sept/Oct 2012

Thai/Burma Border  Sept/Oct 2012
Dr Kurt Spiteri Cornish, Specialist Registrar Ophthalmologist, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
I was impressed by how organized the whole setup was, and how efficiently the clinic ran.   I learnt various surgical techniques from Mr. Green including small incision cataract surgery (SICS).   In the first week we examined and treated approximately 140 patients (not including post-ops), and performed surgery on 64.   On Sunday we travelled hundreds of miles to one of the eye camps in the southern part of the border, called Nupo camp.  There we set up our equipment and ran clinic and theatre at the same time.  In the three days we spent at the camp, we examined 110 patients, performed 20 biometries and operated on 27 patients.  All surgeries in the clinic and camp were done under local anaesthetic, including enucleations and eviscerations.  This was especially challenging when it involved young children!  Overall, I was able to perform 35 SICS.  I also carried out excision of advanced pterygia with conjunctival autografts, enucleations, trabeculectomies and lid procedures.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank the trustees of the Fiona Dolan Fund for sponsoring part of the cost towards this successful and life-changing experience. 

 Patients waiting
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