The Maliheh Free Clinic, at www.malihehfreeclinic.org, is a volunteer-based clinic serving the Greater Salt Lake Area by providing free quality eye care as well as comprehensive health maintenance and preventative care to over 50,000 uninsured and low-income children and adults who live in poverty and who cannot qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. The clinic is supported by donations, hundreds of dedicated professionals, and a network of medical institutions. Professionals consist of dentists, nurses, social workers, interpreters, and primary and specialty care doctors, all of whom volunteer their time free of charge, including Moran’s Dr. Majid Moshirfar and fellows from the Moran Eye Center.
The Maliheh Free Clinic was founded in 2005 by successful businessman and philanthropist Khosrow Semnani and was named after his Grandmother, Maliheh Abdollahi, who exemplified to Semnani kindness, charity, and humanitarian work. It is in this spirit of generosity and kindness that every patient who walks through the clinic’s doors is provided care regardless of their financial situation.
Many of the patients that Moran surgeons evaluate and treat at the Maliheh Free Clinic have been without eye care for years and often need surgery to repair damage to their eyes and vision system to regain sight. These situations call for the use of a hospital-based surgical suite with nurses, anesthesiologists, surgical supplies, hospital support, and more. As the Moran Eye Center is a nonprofit organization, our resources are limited, which requires that we rely on the generosity of many donors to carry out this work. If this is a cause you would like to support, please follow this link: Giving Opportunities
Majid Moshirfar is the director of the Moran Eye Center’s Refractive Surgery Program and Cornea Program. Dr. Moshirfar specializes in refractive surgery, medical and surgical management of corneal disorders, cataract removal, and inflammatory eye diseases. Dr. Moshirfar lectures extensively around the country on a variety of vision correction procedures and has become a community spokesperson on the benefits and risks of vision correction surgery.
Albert T. Vitale specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of patients suffering from diseases of the retina and vitreous. He is also one of the only ophthalmologists in the Intermountain West specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of uveitis and other infections and inflammatory diseases of the eye. His research interests include ocular manifestations of systemic diseases, novel therapeutic agents and new drug delivery systems in the treatment of ocular inflammatory disease, retinal vascular disease, and the pharmacotherapy of age-related macular degeneration. He is also one of about a handful of people in the country with dual training in ocular immunology and inflammatory disease as well as vitreoretinal surgery, and he is the only provider of such expertise in the Intermountain West. He is also co-author of the definitive text on the subject, with Dr. Stephen Foster, entitled, Diagnosis and Treatment of Uveitis.
Meet Muti Aitaoto
While Muti Aitaoto rode an early morning bus from Boise to Salt Lake City this past spring, he didn’t notice the scenery slipping by. Even if he had been able to see it, he was so entrenched in his thoughts—a churning mass of gratitude and incredulity—that he might have missed it anyway. Blind in both eyes now, Mr. Aitaoto wondered, “How is it that I have ended up with one of the best eye doctors in America despite having no way to pay for his services?
Mr. Aitaoto was heading to the Maliheh Free Clinic to see Dr. Majid Moshirfar, Director of the Cornea and Refractive Surgery Division at Moran. “This doctor works on big-name people, and here I come with no insurance, and he puts me on top of the list. I cried on my way to Salt Lake.”
For the past six months, Mr. Aitaoto had been living in a murky darkness after his one-functioning eye went blind from severe cataracts. He had exhausted all his efforts in accessing treatment. A doctor in Boise helped put him in contact with the Maliheh Clinic, and within two weeks of his call, Mr. Aitaoto was scheduled for a sight-restoring eye operation.
“Nurse, I’m going to start crying when I open my eyes,” he recalls saying after the surgery, as the nurse began peeling off the gauze. “Just cry, the tears will help with the healing,” she replied. “She was the first face I saw when I opened my eyes,” Mr. Aitaoto remembers. “I told her she had the most beautiful face I’d ever seen.” “It took 20 minutes to improve his sight, and he waited six months—blind—for that surgery,” says Dr. Moshirfar, shaking his head. “He could see the next day.” Regardless of where he sees his patients, the U’s Moran Eye Center or the Maliheh Clinic, Dr. Moshirfar tries to envision all of them as a family member—a brother, a mother, a son—to return the faith they put in him. “When you see that sense of trust, you take that and try to transform it into something,”
Riding the bus back home, Muti Aitaoto admits to reading every roadside sign. “I could see everything, birds, airplanes, clouds, mountains… Now, I smile and say hello to everyone; this is a whole new beginning for me.”
All clinical services and programs are part of University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics