Sunday, November 16, 2008

SOSH Mission Trip to Cap Haitien, Haiti

Student Optometric Services to Humanity (SOSH) is a non-profit organization, established in 1968, dedicated to providing eye care and vision services to those living in poverty and without access to local eye care. Often, the services that SOSH delivers in these regions are the only means, for some, of receiving proper eye care. The original purpose of the organization was to provide eye care and spectacles to the people of Haiti, but due to the escalating political turmoil and unrest in Haiti in 1986, SOSH no longer felt they would be able to carry out their mission safely. Instead, SOSH PCO extended its services to other countries in need of care such as Guatemala and Mexico and had not returned back to Haiti since. This year, 22 years after the last time SOSH was in Haiti, our group returned back to where it all began...

Our trip was scheduled for Sept 19 2008 to Sept 29 2008 and although Tropical storm Fay, and Hurricane Gustav, Hanna, and Ike were all unpredictably destructive and devastating for Haiti, and the possibility of abandoning our mission trip was imminent at that time, we hesitantly continued on with our operation (and thankfully so since the Haitians really needed our help). Twenty student doctors (me included, of course) and 2 doctor preceptors organized into 2 groups and went to 2 different sites everyday; one group went to Living Hope Mission and the other group would go to a site that Justinien hospital set up but ALL of us were responsible for providing the most effective and compassionate eye and vision care service possible. At both sites, a comprehensive history was taken by one of the translators, or nurse, and then we were responsible for measuring the patients' visual acuity, which was followed by lens rack-retinoscopy to get an approximate idea of the patients' refractive error. This was then later followed by an anterior view of the eye and posterior view of the fundus with the direct opthalmoscope. If the patients best corrected visual acuity was worse than 20/400 in the better seeing eye then we would refer the patient to the doctor preceptor. Referrals for cataract surgery, pterygium removal and glaucoma surgery were the most prevalent reasons we recommended surgery. If no referrals we required, patients would conclude their ocular health evaluation at the 'optical center' where all patients were provided with a pair of glasses to help neutralize their refractive error (if needed), a pair of sunglasses, and candy! By the end the trip, we helped approximately 2400 patients and improved the vision of hundreds of people.

This trip was both academically and personally fulfilling. This trip was sooooooo much more than I ever expected and I was soooooo lucky I got to go. The gracious people we met on our trip, to the beautiful, breathe-taking scenery and the little unspoken moments I got the privilege of experiencing, have all been embedded, and cherished, in my memory. We were able to improve the lives of so many people but this trip has also changed my outlook on life. The poverty and desperation that I witnessed, contrasted with the fierce spirit and courage demonstrated by the Haitians, was inspiring and humbling. I got to see the most raw strength of human nature which, for that reason alone, made this trip so overwhelming and unforgettable.

The whole group @ Living Hope

Hundreds of people waiting outside to get an eye exam @ one of the Justinien Sites

SOSH Members measuring Visual Acuity

Looking at the fundus using Direct Opthalmoscope

J performing lens rack-ret on a patient

Our mode of transportation to and from mission sites

Playing 'Mafia,' at the hotel, after a long, hard day of work


legz said...

This is by far the best blog! Thanks for posting it! I will never forget this trip! and the people I shared it with!

Lil One said...

you guys are amazing. im jealous and wish i could've been there with you :(

NetBizSavvy said...

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Jessica Forester said...

After 6 months of offering stem cell therapy in combination with the venous angioplasty liberation procedure, patients of CCSVI Clinic have reported excellent health outcomes. Ms. Kasma Gianopoulos of Athens Greece, who was diagnosed with the Relapsing/Remitting form of MS in 1997 called the combination of treatments a “cure”. “I feel I am completely cured” says Ms. Gianopoulos, “my symptoms have disappeared and I have a recovery of many functions, notably my balance and my muscle strength is all coming (back). Even after six months, I feel like there are good changes happening almost every day. Before, my biggest fear was that the changes wouldn’t (hold). I don’t even worry about having a relapse anymore. I’m looking forward to a normal life with my family. I think I would call that a miracle.”
Other recent MS patients who have had Autologous Stem Cell Transplantation (ASCT), or stem cell therapy have posted videos and comments on YouTube.
Dr. Avneesh Gupte, the Neurosurgeon at Noble Hospital performing the procedure has been encouraged by results in Cerebral Palsy patients as well. “We are fortunate to be able to offer the treatment because not every hospital is able to perform these types of transplants. You must have the specialized medical equipment and specially trained doctors and nurses”. With regard to MS patients, “We are cautious, but nevertheless excited by what patients are telling us. Suffice to say that the few patients who have had the therapy through us are noticing recovery of neuro deficits beyond what the venous angioplasty only should account for”.
Dr. Unmesh of Noble continues: “These are early days and certainly all evidence that the combination of liberation and stem cell therapies working together at this point is anecdotal. However I am not aware of other medical facilities in the world that offer the synthesis of both to MS patients on an approved basis and it is indeed a rare opportunity for MS patients to take advantage of a treatment that is quite possibly unique in the world”.
Autologous stem cell transplantation is a procedure by which blood-forming stem cells are removed, and later injected back into the patient. All stem cells are taken from the patient themselves and cultured for later injection. In the case of a bone marrow transplant, the HSC are typically removed from the Pelvis through a large needle that can reach into the bone. The technique is referred to as a bone marrow harvest and is performed under a general anesthesia. The incidence of patients experiencing rejection is rare due to the donor and recipient being the same individual.This remains the only approved method of the SCT therapy.

Leo Voisey said...

David Summers, a 37 year old MS patient from Murfreesboro, Tennessee was a score of 8.0 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) when he had the Combination Liberation Therapy and Stem Cell Transplantation at CCSVI Clinic in March of 2012. Having been diagnosed in 1996 he had been in a wheelchair for the past decade without any sensation below the waist or use of his legs.
“It was late 2011 and I didn’t have much future to look forward to” says David. “My MS was getting more progressive and ravaging my body. I was diagnosed as an 8.0 on the EDSS scale; 1 being mild symptoms, 10 being death. There were many new lesions on my optic nerves, in my brain and on my spinal cord. My neurologist just told me: ‘be prepared to deteriorate’. I knew that he was telling me I didn’t have much time left, or at least not much with any quality.” David had previously sought out the liberation therapy in 2010 and had it done in a clinic in Duluth Georgia. “The Interventional Radiologist who did it told me that 50% of all MS patients who have the jugular vein-clearing therapy eventually restenose. I didn’t believe that would happen to me if I could get it done. But I have had MS for 16 years and apparently my veins were pretty twisted up”. Within 90 days, David’s veins had narrowed again, and worse, they were now blocked in even more places than before his procedure.
“I was so happy after my original procedure in 2010. I immediately lost all of the typical symptoms of MS. The cog fog disappeared, my speech came back, the vision in my right eye improved, I was able to regulate my body temperature again, and some of the sensation in my hands came back. But as much as I wanted to believe I felt something, there was nothing below the waist. I kind of knew that I wouldn’t get anything back in my legs. There was just way too much nerve damage now”. But any improvements felt by David lasted for just a few months.
After his relapse, David and his family were frustrated but undaunted. They had seen what opening the jugular veins could do to improve him. Because the veins had closed so quickly after his liberation procedure, they considered another clinic that advocated stent implants to keep the veins open, but upon doing their due diligence, they decided it was just too risky. They kept on searching the many CCSVI information sites that were cropping up on the Internet for something that offered more hope. Finding a suitable treatment, especially where there was no known cure for the disease was also a race against time. David was still suffering new attacks and was definitely deteriorating. Then David’s mother Janice began reading some patient blogs about a Clinic that was offering both the liberation therapy and adult autologous stem cell injections in a series of procedures during a hospital stay. “These patients were reporting a ‘full recovery’ of their neurodegenerative deficits” says Janice, “I hadn’t seen anything like that anywhere else”. She contacted CCSVI Clinic in late 2011 and after a succession of calls with the researchers and surgeons they decided in favor of the combination therapies.For more information please visit

Leo Voisey said...

Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), or the pathological restriction of venous vessel discharge from the CNS has been proposed by Zamboni, et al, as having a correlative relationship to Multiple Sclerosis. From a clinical perspective, it has been demonstrated that the narrowed jugular veins in an MS patient, once widened, do affect the presenting symptoms of MS and the overall health of the patient. It has also been noted that these same veins once treated, restenose after a time in the majority of cases. Why the veins restenose is speculative. One insight, developed through practical observation, suggests that there are gaps in the therapy protocol as it is currently practiced. In general, CCSVI therapy has focused on directly treating the venous system and the stenosed veins. Several other factors that would naturally affect vein recovery have received much less consideration. As to treatment for CCSVI, it should be noted that no meaningful aftercare protocol based on evidence has been considered by the main proponents of the ‘liberation’ therapy (neck venoplasty). In fact, in all of the clinics or hospitals examined for this study, patients weren’t required to stay in the clinical setting any longer than a few hours post-procedure in most cases. Even though it has been observed to be therapeutically useful by some of the main early practitioners of the ‘liberation’ therapy, follow-up, supportive care for recovering patients post-operatively has not seriously been considered to be part of the treatment protocol. To date, follow-up care has primarily centered on when vein re-imaging should be done post-venoplasty. The fact is, by that time, most patients have restenosed (or partially restenosed) and the follow-up Doppler testing is simply detecting restenosis and retrograde flow in veins that are very much deteriorated due to scarring left by the initial procedure. This article discusses a variable approach as to a combination of safe and effective interventional therapies that have been observed to result in enduring venous drainage of the CNS to offset the destructive effects of inflammation and neurodegeneration, and to regenerate disease damaged tissue.
As stated, it has been observed that a number of presenting symptoms of MS almost completely vanish as soon as the jugulars are widened and the flows equalize in most MS patients. Where a small number of MS patients have received no immediate benefit from the ‘liberation’ procedure, flows in subject samples have been shown not to have equalized post-procedure in these patients and therefore even a very small retrograde blood flow back to the CNS can offset the therapeutic benefits. Furthermore once the obstructed veins are further examined for hemodynamic obstruction and widened at the point of occlusion in those patients to allow full drainage, the presenting symptoms of MS retreat. This noted observation along with the large number of MS patients who have CCSVI establish a clear association of vein disease with MS, although it is clearly not the disease ‘trigger’.For more information please visit