As a mission-driven organization, RCA physicians are consistently striving to make an impact and save sight around the world. Several RCA physicians, including Dr. Gary Lane, Dr. Dante Pieramici, and Dr. Darrell Baskin, are actively involved with international organizations that provide ophthalmic care for underserved populations.
Dr. Lane of Retina Consultants of Texas currently serves as a volunteer faculty member with an emphasis on teaching for three international organizations: Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, Orbis International, and Medical Ministry International. These organizations help provide instruction for physicians and other healthcare workers in an effort to increase the quality of care available in dozens of countries. According to Orbis International, more than 30 million people currently live with blindness that could have been avoided, and the volunteer teaching efforts are equipping healthcare workers with the knowledge and skills needed to combat this problem. Since college, Dr. Lane has been participating in volunteer efforts around the world, and this passion has continued on into his professional career. As an undergraduate, he taught English at United Nations refugee camps in Eastern Europe, which provided his first exposure to humanitarian work overseas. And a few years later, he participated in many ophthalmology trips to Central America, South America, and Africa while serving as a member of the United States Air Force.
Looking back on his work overseas, Dr. Lane sees several reasons why he stays involved with international organizations.
"I think my main motivation is simple compassion for others," said Dr. Lane. "The more I travel, the more I see the tremendous needs around the world and the huge positive impact of good eye care."
Additionally, Dr. Lane credits other influences that have encouraged him, including doctors who have become coworkers while in other countries.
"My faith is also important to me, as well as the encouragement of other ophthalmologists," he explained. "I work with Dr. Robert Rice and Dr. Benjamin Roberts – both have received the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s Outstanding Humanitarian Service Award. Their unselfish service is an example to others."
Dr. Dante Pieramici of California Retina Consultants currently serves on the Board of Directors for SEE International. He has also made trips to train retina specialists in India, Haiti, Vietnam, and Honduras.
SEE International’s goal is "for every community around the world to have sustainable eye care systems for generations to come." To achieve this goal, SEE works with its global network of more than 600 volunteers to provide training and donate equipment to countries in need. These medical professionals participate in up to 200 overseas programs every year that have been coordinated by the organization.
Dr. Pieramici got his start in international efforts as a resident traveling to India with the Wilmer Eye Institute Aravind Eye Hospital exchange program. Since then, he has regularly participated in efforts to train ophthalmologists around the globe.
He enjoys teaching surgery for doctors in countries that have limited resources and recognizes the impact that his efforts and others can have.
"We have wonderful technology and training in the United States, but in many places around the world, even the most basic eye care is unavailable to millions of people," Dr. Piearmici said. "By training eye doctors in these places and providing them with equipment, life-transforming treatments will restore and maintain the vision for some percentage of these people."
Dr. Darrell Baskin of Retina Consultants of Texas currently works with Serge, a faith-based nonprofit organization that serves those in need in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.
Dr. Baskin explained that Serge first employed him while he lived overseas studying French. He then began working at a rural hospital in Burundi.
"Since I was in high school, I have always dreamed of working overseas to help those in need," Dr. Baskin said. "Serge provided a blueprint for me to fulfill that dream."