­­­­­­­­­New Type of Surgery for Infants Introduced in Armenia
Special Medical Mission to Armenia

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The AECP/USAID project “Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Childhood Blindness” (CEPCB), which combats childhood blindness through the prevention and treatment of the retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), is approaching one of the most challenging phases of the program - ROP surgeries, which have never been performed in Armenia or the region before. 

 

The AECP referred to Dr. Chien Wong, pediatric retina surgeon from the United Kingdom (Moorfields Eye Hospital and Royal Free London Hospital) to join the AECP medical team in a special mission organized on April 28-30. During these days Dr. Wong and AECP physicians examined over 20 infants and young children with potentially blinding eye (retinal) diseases. Of these, four were selected for surgeries, based on several clinical decision factors, including the child's age, severity of disease and the potential long-term positive impact on the child's vision and life.

 

The surgeries took place at the CEPCB operating room at the Republican Institute of Reproductive Health, Perinatology, Obstetrics, and Gynecology. Dr. Thomas Lee, Director of the Retina Department at the Vision Center of Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and the AECP mentor of the CEPCB program, used an innovative online monitoring system to observe the surgeries in real time and discussed the overall surgery procedure with Dr. Wong and other colleagues in the operating room.

Our mission is eliminating
preventable blindness and
making eye care accessible to
all people in Armenia.

The first case was a 4 month old Armenian baby-girl that was born 13 weeks premature. She had an extremely complex and advanced detachment of the retina due to ROP that almost inevitably leads to complete blindness without treatment, requiring a highly specialized team of surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses. The surgery took over 4 hours, performed by Dr. Wong and Dr. Tadevos Hovhannisyan, using a state-of-the-art “Lumera” operating microscope, with very careful and precise micro-manipulation and delicate removal of diseased membranes (scar tissue). The other three cases were developmental diseases involving the retina and lens in children aged 5 months, 7 months and 5 years. All four surgeries went well, and the children are now gradually recovering back home with their families.

 

On April 29, the episodes of the surgeries were presented to Armenian media at Noyan Tapan information center by Dr. Chien Wong, Dr. Roger Ohanesian (AECP President), Prof. Alexander Malayan (Chief Ophthalmologist of Armenia, AECP Medical Director), Prof.  Razmik Abrahamyan (Chief Obstetrician-Gynecologist of Armenia, Director of Republican Institute of Reproductive Health, Perinatology, Obstetrics, and Gynecology) and Nune Yeghiazaryan (AECP Country Director).

 

“The continuing involvement in the program of the finest retina and ROP specialists in the world is elevating the treatment of ROP in Armenia to a level that we hope will qualify Armenia as a regional center in the nearest future. The project is committed to ensure excellence both in treatment and in service. This mission is a good start, and we hope very much that following their international colleagues the Armenian doctors will continue successful operations in Armenia”- said the AECP President, Dr. Roger Ohanesian.

 

Dr. Tadevos Hovhannisyan and Dr. Hasmik Shahnazaryan are currently assigned as AECP surgeons that will carry on this service for children identified with ROP in Armenia and other countries in the region. 

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