How lucky am I that there is a Mercy Vision project in this area?
Basically, cataract surgeries are done here courtesy of Mercy Ships, who also train a local doctor to perform the surgery. Thousands of South Africans are blinded by treatable causes such as cataracts, and the aim is to alleviate some of that.
Because January is a crazy month and the project centre had nobody to scrub in to assist, they almost had to cancel surgeries.
BUT med students are allowed to assist! And I am the only med student here. Heh.
By “assist” I mean pass instruments and drip solution on the cornea. Eyes are waaaaay too important to allow a medical student with a sharp implement nearby, I think. I did essentially the same thing a scrub nurse would do, which gave me a much better vantage point than what I had when observing cataract surgery during my Ophthalmology rotation. That alone made it worth it a hundred times over.
I’m pretty sure the doctor would have been just fine without me, but I’m not complaining – it was an AWESOME learning opportunity.
It was interesting to see the slight variation in techniques. The technique used here was sutureless and seemed less complicated than what I had seen before.
I also respect scrub nurses a lot more now. Not that I didn’t before – they’re intense!
The surgeries were quick, fluent and amazing. I want to do that one day.