Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology, Jesse Berry, MD, and Co-Chief Resident, Philip Storey, MD, were fortunate enough to spend a week at the Srikiran Institute of Ophthalmology in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India. Sankurathri Foundation was established by Dr. Chandrasekhar Sankurathri as a memorial to his wife, Manjari Sankurathri, son, Srikiran and daughter, Sarada who were killed in a terrorist bombing of Air India Flight 182 (Kanishka) on 23rd June 1985. The Foundation’s main mission is to empower the poor through better education, eye care and timely help to the needy. Drs. Berry and Storey assisted patients in the clinic, performed various OR procedures, conducted outreach, and enjoyed the local cuisine. Here is the first day of their journey:
Day 1 at Srikiran
We started out the first day with an amazing homemade Southern Indian breakfast of idli (cakes of urad dal – which are a type of lentils and rice), clarified butter (ghee) and two kinds of curries – a coconut base and a tomato base. Then Dr. Avanish, one of the head consultants, took us on a tour of the hospital. The hospital is more of a compound: there is a paid and unpaid wing, operating suites, every subspecialty in ophthalmology is represented and each specialist has a waiting room jam packed of men and women, dressed in gorgeous colored saris, waiting to be seen.
The patients are kind and humble. They are very excited to see foreigners and were thrilled to have their photos taken. Each one wanted a photo and to see it after on the camera screen. They remained very serious for the photos but broke into a huge smile when they saw it on the screen. Overall, they were so excited and welcoming and it was very special.
We also were able to meet the entire staff of doctors in the hospital. There are two residents each year (for three), three fellows (retina, cornea and phaco) and the senior consultants. The trainees are so sharp! They are all great surgeons and used to triaging very complex eye conditions. In one morning we saw Parinaud’s syndrome, retinitis pigmentosa, multiple infections, mature and hypermature cataracts, globe and face trauma and tuberculous meningitis with papilledema. One young girl of 14 had idiopathic uveitis with severe inflammation in the eye and had now developed a cataract. Each patient carried their medical records with them, including CT, MRI and x-ray films to show the doctor. The girl’s father had forgotten hers so he left her alone so as not to lose her place in line while he returned home for them. She was young, alone and a little scared when her name was called and she was still without her father but she put on a brave face and came in the clinic to meet the doctor. By the time we were done with the exam her father had returned and she was scheduled for surgery.
After clinic we went to the OR to observe cataract surgery and we able to each do a small incision cataract surgery! The skill set here is different from phaco and different even from regular extracap – so hard to jump into – but both patients did well and I am looking forward to a few more surgeries while here.
At the end of the day we joined Dr. Chandra and his sister Hema for a late dinner of okra, cauliflower, potatoes, and Roti (a round tortilla like bread). It was healthy and delicious. Then we made plans for tomorrow (more surgery!), turned the mosquito distractors on (yes, that is real) and turned in for the night!
Dr. Jesse Berry is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and Associate Residency Program Director at LAC+USC Medical Center. She is residency and fellowship trained and a member of the Society of Heed Fellows.