Moran's Charitable Surgery Day Restores Sight to 17 Patients

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Months in the planning, funded by donations, and staffed by more than 50 volunteers, including doctors, who gave freely of their time, Moran’s latest Charitable Surgery Day took place on a hopeful Saturday morning, October 13, 2013. Pre-screened patients, some with friends and family, some on their own, came into the Moran Eye Center with debilitating cataracts and left with the gift of clear vision.

This now bi-annual event started in 2007 when Moran’s Dr. Jeff Pettey and Brian Stagg, then a fourth- year medical student, saw the need. As one of the founders of the event, Petty sees Charitable Surgery Day as a chance to give back the community. “I believe that no one with preventable vision loss or blindness should remain in darkness,“ he says. “We have the collective will and ability to provide state-of-the-art care to the individuals in our community who cannot afford or do not have access to healthcare. No one in our community should be living with curable vision loss.” 

Moran doctors and residents regularly volunteer time Salt Lake’s Fourth Street and Maliheh clinics, the Salt Lake County Youth Detention Center, the Glendale Community Center, and Park City People’s Clinic, and provide preventative care and basic screenings for patients. While there, they also screen for severe disease or eye damage. When they come across a patient who requires more extensive care or surgery, a uniquely comprehensive patient advocacy process begins and patients are sometimes steered into the Charitable
Surgery Day program to receive care.

“It’s Like a Whole New World”

As one patient said, “I think the longest two hours and fifteen minutes of my life were in the waiting room last Saturday. Thank you for giving my husband his vision back. He can now see our baby boy with 20/20 vision in his corrected eye.”

Twenty-two-year-old Jose Alamos had cataracts in both eyes, which in the past has made it hard for him to get a job. He already had surgery on one eye, and was at Surgery Day to remove his second cataract. His vision came back overnight. “It is awesome being able to see,” he says. Actually being able to reach far away and see everything and see the clear faces on people now. It’s great.”

According to Dr. Alan S. Crandall, lenses for the surgeries are donated, “making it possible for us to help a patient like Shelli Hatt, a 45-year-old woman who is totally blind in one eye from a white cataract. Now that the cataract is gone, she can see beautifully; it will not come back.” Shelli’s reaction after the surgery? “It’s like a whole new world.”

“There’s nothing better than seeing the look on a patient’s face after taking the bandage off the next day," says Dr. Jeff Pettey. “In the case of some of these advanced cataracts we worked on today, we’re talking someone who can’t ready anything. Someone who hasn’t seen the face of her grandchild for two years, and at the end of the day she’s able to read, to see that grandkid’s face. There’s nothing I think I’ve ever done or could do that could give me that sort of reward.”

All clinical services and programs are part of University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics