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Dr. Itay Ben-Zion Making a Difference in Ethiopia

      Itay Ben-Zion is a pediatric ophthalmologist from Israel.  Upon completing a pediatric ophthalmology fellowship at Indiana University, Itay announced that he was eager to carry out work in Africa, a place where he had worked earlier in his career, before settling down at home in Israel.  His wish was granted with help from an NEI grant and assistance from ORBIS Ethiopia.  During this eventful year, Itay established a pediatric eye service at Hawassa University, restored sight and hope to hundreds of children, carried out additional volunteer service to the most remote and underserved areas in Ethiopia, survived a broken femur taking only a few weeks off from work, and became a father for the fifth time. This was all accomplished with the support of an amazing wife and resilient children.                       
   Dr. Itay Ben-Zion  


Not stopping here, Itay has written papers based on this experience, published in high level ophthalmology journals: Surgical Results in the Management of Advanced Primary Congenital Glaucoma in a Rural Pediatric Population, and Congenital Brown Syndrome in Non- Twin Siblings. In addition he has several more papers accepted, in press, and in preparation. After returning home, Itay found time to serve ORBIS again, conducting a Hospital Based Program in India in 2009.

"I had the privilege to work with ORBIS in southern Ethiopia between 2007-2008 establishing pediatric eye care in the region. I had tremendous support from ORBIS during this venture including help with patient management and logistics, but on the ground it was my wonderful family and me. 

During this eventful time I became aware of the common mistake of those who think that working in under-served regions is met with indifference.  On the contrary, the amount of satisfaction that can be derived is overwhelming. Actually, as a human you gain so much more than what you can possibly give.  It is in these places that doing just a little can mean so much. The smile of a child who was blind but now can see is a life-long memory. During my time with the wonderful people of Hawassa, we managed to build a pediatric eye unit capable of diagnosing and treating most serious eye problems. Pediatric glaucoma procedures as well as vitrector assisted congenital cataract surgeries were introduced and are still being done today. I had the privilege of working with great people from around the globe, learning that together changes can be made to change lives for the better. This year will remain a cherished memory for me and for my family. Our thanks go out to all the many people that made this dream come true."