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Oculist keeps his eye on the prize

English.news.cn   2014-01-19 09:40:53

By Lu Feiran

BEIJING, Jan. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Dr Jia Yading was the first Chinese opthamologist on the ORBIS International aircraft carrying doctors around the world to perform surgery on needy people.

That was in 1993, and he has been affiliated with ORBIS ever since, operating its first training center in China and then implementing techniques he learned overseas.

Today the 56-year-old physician and surgeon is director of the Shanxi Eye Hospital in Taiyuan, and is considered one of the country’s top ophthalmologists.

He recently attended an ORBIS charity dinner in Shanghai and spoke with Shanghai Daily.

“I learned skills and acquired knowledge from experts while working with ORBIS, but most significant was their way of thinking and dealing with patients, which inspired me greatly,” he said. “They adopted a more personal, patient-friendly approach to the patients.”

ORBIS International is a non-profit non-governmental organization founded in 1982 and dedicated to saving sight worldwide. ORBIS programs focus on prevention of blindness and the treatment of blinding eye diseases in developing countries.

Jia was born into a doctor’s family in 1957, Shanxi Province. Both parents are gynecologists and obstetricians. In 1977, he entered Shanxi Medical University, majoring in thoracic surgery. He had been among the first young people to take the national college entrance exam that had been suspended during the “cultural revolution” (1966-76). During that period, China fell far behind the rest of the world in many fields, including medicine.

After graduation, he had to choose a different field, orthopedics or ophthalmology, since he was assigned to a hospital that already had a thoracic surgeon. At that time, there were so few college and medical graduates.

“I disliked orthopedics as I thought the work is too rough, so I chose ophthalmology, which is more refined,” he said.

In 1993, Jia was an attending doctor at Shanxi Eye Hospital when he was recommended for the famous ORBIS International “flying eye hospital.”

It was an exciting possibility to learn.

“For a long time China was secluded from the rest of the world. During the ‘cultural revolution,’ we didn’t know what Western doctors were studying and we knew nothing about the latest facilities,” Jia said.

At that time, Chinese doctors depended on the naked eye to perform surgery and had no idea how magnification instruments would increase accuracy.

“Therefore, we loved ORBIS,” he said.

He spent a year flying to 12 countries, translating and assisting experts from the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

He was in contact with several different experts every week, learning about advanced ophthalmology.

The experience was an eye-opener. Although ORBIS went to less developed countries, some of them still had better surgical techniques and facilities than China.

For example, implanted intraocular lenses were widely used in some countries, such as Lithuania, but seldom in China.

After the end of his work with ORBIS in 1993, he went to Shanghai for further study but found that domestic hospitals couldn’t teach him much since he had seen much better.

In 1995, he went to Columbia to practice, since at that time Chinese doctors could not obtain medical licenses in the US or Canada and could only work in laboratories.

Medicine was much better in Columbia than people thought. “There was a large gap between rich and poor and the hospitals and clinics for the rich were very good, equivalent to those in the US,” he said.

After working abroad, he was far ahead of most of his colleagues in China. When ORBIS established its first training center in the world, in the hospital where Jia worked in Taiyuan, he became the director. Since 1998, it has trained more than 1,000 Chinese and foreign doctors, such as those from Mongolia. Training lasts from three months to a year.

“ORBIS was and still is a window to introduce the latest knowledge and skills benefitting both doctors and patients,” Jia said.

Now Jia has applied what he learned with ORBIS to hospital management. He requires doctors to make friends with patients and do their best to make every surgery a competitive product.

“Doctors need to form good habits in their work, in surgery and in dealing with patients,” he said. “The road to success is paved with good habits.”

(Source: Shanghai Daily)

Editor: Shen Qing
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