Americans donate corneas to help bring back the light for 10 Vietnamese

Monday, 2019-06-03 17:27:49
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Dr. Edward Kondrot (R) hands over the corneas to a representative from the National Coordination Centre for Organ Transplantation at Da Nang Airport on June 2. (Photo: NDO/Lam Tran)
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NDO – The National Coordination Centre for Organ Transplantation (NCCOT) has received a special donation from Dr. Edward Kondrot - an ophthalmologist from the Hawaii ophthalmology society and SEE International (USA). The donation includes 10 corneas of deceased Americans who died last May, to help bring back the light to 10 Vietnamese people after corneal transplantations.

Dr. Kondrot and his wife, Ly Kondrot, often go around the world taking part in many volunteering activities, connecting free eye/corneal transplant programmes for patients, especially children in poor countries. Kondrot said that every time he conducts volunteer programmes, he will notify the eye bank in the US in advance. The bank accepts the doctor's proposal and send the corneas, which includes their full records, to his home before his flights. Normally, they would send them to him from 2-3 corneas to transplant.

Dr. Kondrot said that this time he was very surprised as the bank sent him 10 corneas when he was informed that Vietnam is in a shortage of corneas, so they would send 10 for this programme. This is the largest number of corneas he has ever received while traveling to foreign countries.

Ly Kondrot is a Vietnamese American. Therefore, she always wanted to return to Vietnam with her partner to help those with eye diseases. Ly said, her husband only has the desire to maximise his ability and practice on ophthalmology during his entire life to help disadvantaged patients. They returned to Vietnam this time at the invitation of Hue Central Hospital.

Dr. Kondrot meets and examines the eyes for patients waiting for cornea transplant right after going from Da Nang Airport to Hue Central Hospital. (Photo: NDO/Lam Tran)

Yesterday, the NCCOT received 10 corneas at Da Nang Airport. Dr. Kondrot will join the medical staff at the Hue Central Hospital to conduct corneal transplant and free eye surgeries for underprivileged patients in Hue city from June 3 to 7. Doctor Pham Nhu Vinh Tuyen, Deputy Head of Hue Central Hospital’s Department of Ophthalmology, said there will be five cases of corneal transplants and 50 patients with cataract surgery during the programme.

The remaining five cornea were transferred to Hanoi the same day by the NCCOT and handed back to the National Eye Bank. Nguyen Huu Hoang, the director of the bank, said this is a valuable gift for the Eye Bank as well as patients waiting for corneal transplants.

Nguyen Hoang Phuc (in blue), Deputy Director of the National Coordination Centre for Organ Transplantation, hands over five remaining corneas to representative from the National Eye Bank. (Photo: NDO/Lam Tran)

Hoang revealed that in 2018, there were 109 corneal donations with nearly 200 corneas to transplant to waiting patients. From the beginning of 2019, his bank has received 65 donations. Meanwhile, the number of people registered for corneal transplants at the Hanoi-based Central Eye Hospital are always high, fluctuating from 800-1,000 people.

Nguyen Hoang Phuc, Deputy Director of the NCCOT, said that these precious corneas will help bring light to 10 waiting patients. He also expressed appreciation and thanked the Hawaii society of ophthalmology, SEE International and Dr. Kondrot and his wife, as well as the relevant hospitals for their collaboration to perform the programme.