Dr. Janak Shah – 100 SEE Programs & Counting

October 2015 | Stories from the field

By Kate Bryant

Former Vice President of Development

Tireless Dedication

On Friday, September 13, 2013, SEE volunteer Dr. Janak Shah, MBBS D.O., left his family and busy practice in Mumbai, and boarded a plane to Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India. With a population of about 700,000 people, most Indians consider Bhavnagar a “small city.” Although there are many doctors doing eye surgery on adults, no one there is doing pediatric eye surgery.

After unpacking medical supplies and his luggage, Shah downed a couple of cups of chai. He then walked across the hall to the examining room, where he examined a bit over 100 children. His goal: to figure out which kids he would operate on for the next two days. “I’m deciding on the need basis. Which patient has to be operated on the urgent basis, and which ones can wait,” Shah explained.

Ptosis, Squint, Cataract, Dacryocystitis, Corneal Ulcers, Nystagmus, and even Glaucoma, were some of the ailments that walked into the examining room that day. After completing the exams, Shah changed into his scrubs and walked down the hall into the “Operating Theater” (OT). The small, one-table OT had enough room for Shah and the surgical staff to perform 26 surgeries, over two days. In the room were two operating nurses, as well an anesthesiologist, and some student nurses helping out. There was also an anesthesiologist present during the post-operation appointment.

“Since we operated on children, there has to be an anesthesiologist. The kids will not cooperate,” explained Shah. “They would get up and try to leave. We operate using short acting ketamine. Since the surgeries take 15 minutes or less, we don’t have to intubate, and the recovery time is much shorter.”

And all of the surgeries that Shah performed were at no cost to the patients.

Since 1996, Dr Shah has volunteered for 100 of SEE’s programs, performing surgeries in countries including Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, Romania, Lebanon, China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Yemen, Syria, and India.

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