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An eye hospital on wheels: lifeline express

CRI Online)  09:46, April 24, 2013  

The Lifeline Express train which consists of four rainbow-colored compartments containing medical equipment and eyecare technology stops at the Beijing West Railway Station on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. [Photo: Yuanhui]

As part of its efforts to help cataract sufferers, Lifeline Express has already cured thousands of patients in rural China. The project, which has now entered its 16th year, is ready for a new start on Thursday.

The Lifeline Express train at the Beijing West Railway Station, which consists of four rainbow-colored compartments containing medical equipment and eyecare technology, is gearing up for a bright journey to provide eye operations to cataract patients in Xinxiang, central China's Henan province.

Nellie Fong, the founding Chairman of the Lifeline Express Hong Kong Foundation, speaks at Lifeline Express' 16th Anniversary Departure Ceremony.

"The Lifeline Express is a hospital eye train, which travels to remote areas in the Chinese mainland to provide free operations to the blind cataract patients. This is the 16th year of operation for Lifeline Express. In these 16 years, Lifeline Express has cured 130,000 cataract patients. "

A cataract is a clouding of the eye, which can lead to blindness if left untreated. The operation to remove a cataract is simple and only takes five to ten minutes.

Ma Xiaowei, vice minister of National Health and Family Planning Commission, says the Lifeline Express project has seen great developments in recent years.

"Lifeline Express has established 29 cataract centers in 8 provinces, and established a training center for cataract treatment."

Ma also said that the Lifeline Express project has brought light to the poor cataract patients and also contributed tremendously to not only the development of eye medical staff, but the building of communities, as well as the national campaign for the prevention and control of sight loss.

Xu Jingmei is an eye doctor from Beijing Shijitan Hospital. Xu recalls that, when she participated in a medical trip to southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, she performed over 1,500 operations in two months. But she says the greatest challenge comes not from the working conditions, nor the work pressures, but dealing with the local dialect. However, she is very proud to be a doctor who can help others.

"The doctor's responsibility is to save and treat patients and they often sacrifice their private time with their own families. However, when patients tell me they can see things, I am filled with happiness."

In order to celebrate Hong Kong's return to China, Nellie Fong, together with twenty other Founding Trustees raised funds to establish the first eye surgery train, which started its journey of vision on July 1, 1997. In 2002, the Chinese Foundation for Lifeline Express was established and widened the network of sponsorship.

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(Editor:LiXiang、Ye Xin)


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