Vienna ophthalmologist Dr. Alex Melamud with a colleague in Rwanda during the mission.
A prominent D.C.- area ophthalmologist from Vienna recently returned from a 10-day trip to East Africa where he performed and assisted with hundreds of surgeries on local residents and those from neighboring countries, many of whom traveled two or three days and lined up and waited for another day or two for their turn.
Dr. Alex Melamud of The Retina Group of Washington recently made his third visit to the Kabgayi Eye Hospital in Rwanda, the first facility in the country to provide free retinal care. He and the hospital’s one ophthalmologist did as many as 40 surgeries a day, treating trauma injuries resulting from machete wounds and animal attacks, retinal detachments, cataracts and many extremely advanced cases of Diabetic Retinopathy.
According to Melamud, many of the patients he and others treat would lose their sight or have non-functioning vision without surgical intervention. He tells a particularly compelling story of a completely blind elderly grandfather being led into the hospital by his grandchild. Following the removal of the cataract, that grandfather was able to see the grandchild for the very first time.
This medical mission is something Melamud does on his own with no funding or support from the Rwandan government or health organizations. There are believed to be no more than two dozen practicing eye doctors in the entire country of Rwanda. He has made similar trips to India and South America and provided free diagnostic and surgical services at no cost to those in need.