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Local eye surgeon gives sight to Ethiopians

Dr. Suh completes successful mission trip

December 2, 2012
By ANDREW POTTER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

When there is one eye doctor for every one million people in locations in Ethiopia, there is no doubt a dire need for mission work. Dr. Donny Suh, filled that need for a week and a half in October working out of Gondar, Ethiopia. Suh is a pediatric ophthalmologist at Wolfe Eye Clinic.

Suh's journey was part of a mission trip sponsored by ORBIS International, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that helps save sight worldwide. It was Suh's 20th mission trip.

"Every place that I go there are different challenges," Suh said.

Article Photos

Dr. Donny Suh, left, of Wolfe Eye Clinic, sits next to a teenager in Ethiopia who he helped reclaim his sight. Also pictured are other staff and the teenager’s family. Suh took part in a mission trip to Ethiopia in October.

The challenges in Ethiopia included an operating room that had exposure to insects, changes in temperature and an unreliable power source.

"In one case we had to use the illumination from a smartphone to complete the surgery," Suh said.

Suh performed 15 strabismus (muscle) surgeries, three congenital cataract surgeries and one tear duct surgery.

One patient sticks out for him - a teenage boy. The boy was blind due to congenital cataracts. After the successful surgery brought his sight back, the family was very happy and the boy said he can now follow his dream of becoming Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

"He's able to have a normal life with a dream," Suh said.

Not only was Suh able to make a difference with these patients, he also conducted training with Ethiopian eye doctors to make the impact of his visit continue into the future.

"The doctors will be able to continue the techniques that I taught them," Suh said.

Suh, a Des Moines resident who rotates work throughout Wolfe Clinic locations, spends two days a month serving patients at the Wolfe location in Marshalltown. He specializes in all types of eyes surgeries for kids and strabismus surgeries for adults.

Many who visit impoverished countries return to the United States with a renewed appreciation of what they have and Suh was no different.

"It truly made me realize how much we have and how much we should be thankful for," Suh said.

Suh is already making plans for another mission trip and said he'll find out soon from ORBIS where he is headed next.



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