Han finally gets the care she needs thanks to Orbis supporters

Five-year-old Han from Can Tho City, Vietnam is the first patient to step on board the Flying Eye Hospital for surgery since the start of the pandemic. After an earlier procedure to restore her vision was unsuccessful, she finally got the care she needed when the plane landed near her hometown.

Thanks to your support, Han received the surgery she needed.

Since birth, Han had suffered from a condition called ptosis — a drooping eyelid that affected the vision in her left eye. As a result, this young girl was quiet and subdued and reluctant to play with other kids. Han’s mother, Loan, thought her daughter’s problems were behind her after undergoing surgery at a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately for Han and her family, the complicated surgery didn’t go as planned and her vision remained obscured.

But then one day, Loan got a call from Can Tho Hospital telling her the Flying Eye Hospital was coming to town...

After all Flying Eye Hospital projects were paused in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our team of Volunteer Faculty and staff were excited to be back in action — treating patients like Han and sharing skills with local eye teams so even more kids can get the care they need long after the plane has gone.

Han and her mother Loan traveled two hours by motorbike to get to the plane. On board, her drooping eyelid was successfully treated, ensuring a future of clear sight for this intelligent young girl.

A Bright Future for Han

Loan, a rice farmer in her home village of Thanh Thanh, supported her brave daughter every step of the way. Holding Han's hand in the recovery area of the Flying Eye Hospital, Loan couldn't contain her tears of joy. Through an interpreter, she expressed her gratitude, saying, "I was so happy and delighted at this point. She was coming awake and recovering. It was a wonderful moment."

She continued, "My girl is dreaming of becoming a doctor in the future. She really wants to help poor people." But her simple request is for Han to grow up healthy and live a happy life — an aspiration that resonates with every parent.

We're so grateful to our supporters and partners who make work like this possible. Thanks to your generosity, expert volunteer Faculty Dr. H. Joon Kim was able to give Han a future of healthy sight and an opportunity to reach her full potential. And thanks to the dedication and commitment of two Vietnamese ophthalmologists, Dr. Tu Ngo The Thanh and Dr. Nhan Truong Nguyen Trong, who skillfully assisted and observed, many more children like Han will also benefit from your generosity thanks to their enhanced skills.

Dr. H. Joon Kim, the skilled surgeon who performed Han's procedure, understands the profound impact such surgeries have on children. She tells us, “children with droopy eyelids are often so shy. It’s amazing how this condition can really impact their social interaction. Once you get their eyelid lifted, they don’t have to tilt their chin up to see anymore, they can walk normally, they are not perceived as having some sort of deformity or syndrome. And it’s amazing how they start to make eye contact all of a sudden – and their interactions change. So, it’s really not just about lifting the eyelid, it’s about having a life-long impact on their social lives and their behavior altogether. You get to change their lives with a very straightforward and simple surgery – and that’s what I love doing every single day, seeing that transformation,” said Dr. Kim.

With her improved vision, Han will go back to school once her surgical scars have healed. And after years of being too shy to play with the other kids, Loan believes Han will now be more confident than ever.

Han smiles with her mother after her successful surgery.

Thank You

We're so grateful to be back in the skies, training eye care teams and treating people like Han — but we couldn't do this alone!

We want to give a special thank you to FedEx who not only sponsored this training project, but has also played an indispensable role in helping treat avoidable vision loss for more than 30 years.

And of course, we want to thank YOU, our incredible supporters. It's thanks to you that these projects are now back in action.

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