Operation International Team ORV – Dominican Republic – 2014

Our mission was a complete success. All sixteen team members, including our honorary members from Lions International, were incredible.


Please click links below for image previews.

John Mitchell Aljian, MD (Cornea Surgeon, Trauma)

Howard Berman (LIONS INT. Liaison)

Daniel Alton Byers (Videography)

Seamus Cunningham (Laser, OR Expert)

Ivanhoe A. Gadpaille (Photography)

Ronald C. Gentile MD, FACS, FASRS (Retina Surgeon, co-leader)

Justin Gentile (Student in Training)

Andrew Haber (Technical Vitrectomy Expert)

Scott W. Hamilton, CCOA (co-leader)

Sanjay R. Kedhar, MD (Cornea Surgeon, Uveitis)

Lorraine Marte(Dehabon Contact Manager)

Joseph Panarelli, MD (Glaucoma Surgeon)

Chris Quaglio (Imaging Expert)

Ines M. Tejada RN (Honorary Member, LIONS INT.)

Nelson Ventura Co, CRNA (Anesthesia)

Pedro Vasquez (OR Nursing Expert)

The team had chemistry and a connection that make missions so successful. Our flight handled all of our special needs, thanks to Barry Liben from Tzell Travel Group and Linda DoSuotofrom Delta Airlines. Manuel Quesada 1 | 2 , a local long time supporter of humanitarian missions in the Dominican Republic, ensured a smooth entrance through the airport with all of our equipment. Despite having to cover 5 different locations, ILAC 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 Dr. Guzmán’s office 1 , Hospital de Ojos, Hospital Cabral y Baez 1 | 2 | 3 , and the Dajabon, we were all in rare form. Days were very long and all of our sacrifice paid off. Our team is one of the most unique eye team in the world that we should all be proud of. Even though many of our team members are veterans, with some having been on over 30 missions, 6 have never been on a medical mission before. These six could have fooled everyone.

We were grateful to our local ophthalmic colleagues

Dr. Sebastian Guzmán 1 | 2
Dr. Pedro Guzmán  1
Dr. Jeannette Dominguez 1 | 2
Dr. Julissa Abreu 1 | 2
Dr. Diana Rodriguez 1 

We are especially indebted to Dr. Sebastian Guzmán and his wife who graciously donated their precious time including his office, operating room, and equipment to ensure the success of our mission.

We registered a total of 286 patients at the Institute for Latin American Concerns (ILAC) and performed over 300 patient exams including over 150 ocular imaging tests. A few patients were also examined at Hospital de Ojos (Ojos Monumento Viviente de Licey Hospital) and one neonate was examined at the Hospital Cabral y Baez. Glasses donated by team members and Gigi Gonzaga were distributed to needy patients in addition to special clothing  donated by Amy and Jayne Vozeolas. The team performed over 35 surgeries including retinal and glaucoma lasers. Surgeries ranged from vitrectomy, corneal transplantation, glaucoma drainage tube implantation, and ptyergium removal with graph. Some of these surgeries are considered the most complex of ophthalmic surgeries and are rarely if ever performed on eye missions. Having a state of the art laser and the most unique portable vitrectomy machine available with us made this possible.

Lectures were performed at both ILAC and the Hospital Cabral y Baez with a unique B-scan and UBM imaging demonstration given at the Hospital de Ojos by Chris Quaglio. The ultrasound demonstration was performed on needy patients for the local ophthalmologists and a room of inquisitive fourth year medical students.

We also evaluated 50 members of a family who suffer from a rare form of vitreoretinopathy with associated hip dysplasia. Lorraine Marte was able to help organize the transportation of the family and translate. The family was from a very poor region in the Dominican Republic called Dajabon. We performed sight saving laser treatment on a few family members and had all undergo genetic testing in order to elucidate the cause of this family’s condition. Kati Tai helped organize the genetic testing, and the bloods were FedExed to the USA. Four team members (Daniel Byers, Justin Gentile, Howard Berman, Lorraine Marte) were also able to go to the family’s homes in order to get a better idea of the issues facing this family. The family was experiencing a severe drought and needed to hydrate their cows with water from cracked sugar cane.

Below is a list of the different diagnoses and patients evaluated. Only the most prominent diagnosis was included.

Family Dajabon 50
Pterygium 45
Corneal Scar/Edema 38
Glaucoma 35
Diabetic Retinopathy/Vein Occlusions 32
Cataract (Main Diagnosis) 24
Uveitis 15
Maculopathy 10
Plastics 8
Trauma 8
Retinal Detachment 7
Retinitis Pigmentosa 5
Misc. 9

We want to congratulate all of the team members on such a successful Operation International-ORV mission and please share what you have done with your family, friends and co-workers. Sometimes you have to stop and just smile.