One doctor trained in cataract surgery impacts many.
Nov 11, 2015
Mercy Ships and Alcon partner to train cataract doctors around the world
Abram Wodome comes from a large family of 16 brothers and sisters. Growing up in Togo, West Africa, he was always surrounded with love and support. As the youngest child of such a large family, his dream of one day becoming a doctor seemed a financial impossibility. However, despite the struggle, Wodome's passion to help his people overcame the trials he faced, and he succeeded in achieving his dream.
In 2002, Dr. Wodome worked as a general physician in Lomé, Togo. During this time, a friend introduced him to the special field of ophthalmology. Dr. Wodome began to learn that there is a great need for ophthalmologists in Togo.
"It is said that Togo has around 30,000 people suffering blindness from cataracts. This number is too high! We need to help people care for their eyes," he explains. After receiving basic training in Guinea, Dr. Wodome traveled through Mali, Benin, and the Ivory Coast to further develop his skills.
In 2010, Dr. Wodome made contact with Dr. Glenn Strauss, an eye surgeon volunteering with Mercy Ships, and he was admitted into the Alcon Fellowship Program onboard the Africa Mercy.
"With Mercy Ships, I really gained specific aspects of this field," Dr. Wodome says.
Dr. Strauss trained Dr. Wodome in a revolutionary technique of cataract removal. This new procedure allows for shorter surgery times and less expensive surgeries.
"With this new procedure, I can remove a cataract in less than 10 minutes. That means we are winning in time, and we can increase the number of surgeries in a day," Dr. Wodome explains. In fact, with a well-trained team, he can complete 25 surgeries a day.
The Alcon Fellowship Program has a long-lasting impact. A doctor trained in the new procedure will, in turn, train other doctors after Mercy Ships leaves the country. This year, in 2014, Dr. Wodome is back with Mercy Ships. He is now training new doctors – just like Dr. Strauss taught him.
"This is very important to me because I cannot keep this technique to myself. We have a challenge according to the number of people needing surgery. In order to obtain the objectives of this program – providing more surgery – we need to have several surgeons doing the same techniques with the same quality," he declares.
After Mercy Ships leaves Togo, Dr. Wodome plans to start his own training program in Lomé. "I will start a training program which will not only provide surgeries after Mercy Ships leaves but also train more surgeons locally."
As Dr. Wodome trains new surgeons, he implements the techniques he has learned throughout his journey with Mercy Ships. He has a big vision for his people and believes strongly in the partnership Mercy Ships has provided to local surgeons. It is his dream that "together we can conquer blindness."
To learn more about ongoing collaboration between Alcon and organizations like Mercy Ships International, please take a moment to read Partners in Eye Care.