VolunteersSixty-two year old Maria Salcedo is looking forward to seeing her grandchildren, ages 8 and 5, clearly. Now she can safely cook them a meal as well.

Johnny Mahoney, 63, has plans to get back to work pouring concrete for a living. He’ll also be able to help his youngest son with a move to Utah. 

Volunteer physicians, nurses, and medical staff from the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah changed the lives of 23 cataract patients like Salcedo and Mahoney on April 8 by providing free, sight-restoring surgeries. The effort was part of Moran’s twice-yearly Operation Sight Day assisting low-income, uninsured Utahns in need of care.

Moran residents and University of Utah medical students first created a charity surgery day with volunteer physicians, staff, nurses and technicians in 2012. The event has since grown to include other Utah sites since the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Foundation’s Operation Sight network adopted the Moran model and provides partial funding. The Eye Institute of Utah and the St. George Eye Center also perform free surgeries as part of Operation Sight.

Pharmaceutical and medical companies donate supplies for Operation Sight Day, while April’s presenting sponsor, Bank of American Fork, and other donors cover the balance of the costs.

Including April patients, Moran has assisted a total of 158 Utahns as part of Operation Sight Day. Surgeons donating their skills during the event were Amy Lin, MD, Craig Chaya, MD, and Nick Mamalis, MD. More than 30 additional medical personnel and staff volunteered their time.

Salcedo and RuizTears of joy streamed down Salcedo’s face after her operation.

“I never thought this would be possible,” she said, giving Moran Patient Financial Advocate Erika Ruiz a hug.

MahoneyMahoney, too, was overwhelmed with the immediate difference he noticed in his eyesight following surgery.

“I’ve been waiting eight months to have this done,” said Mahoney with a smile and booming laugh, “and I just want all of the people here who helped me to know how wonderful this is.”