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The Health Show: USNS Comfort, Part 2
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The Health Show: USNS Comfort, Part 2
The USNS Comfort is a hospital ship bringing medical relief and surgical care to local communities in Central America. Seventy-four-year-old Juana Mejia is on the ship to undergo surgery for the removal of her cataracts.
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Produced by Rockhopper TV.

Originally broadcast as part of The Health Show

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
At 74, Juana Mejia has several health problems. But one particularly worries her.
JUANA MEJIA
I can't see with this eye. I only see shadows during the day.
VOICEOVER
Juana has cataracts. She needs surgery, but like many people here in Guatemala, she can't afford it. This health mission, run by the US Navy, is on a ten-day visit. They're working out who can benefit from their advanced medical skills, which are in short supply here. After the initial assessment, Juana and other patients are transferred to this floating hospital for treatment. The USNS Comfort is a military hospital ship that has been deployed to Latin America on a five-month humanitarian mission. Juana is now on board getting ready for surgery. US Navy doctors and nurses run the ship.
LIEUTENANT EVA CHOU [Ophthalmologist, US Navy]
The main procedure that we've been doing throughout our mission here are cataracts.
VOICEOVER
A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which gradually blocks vision, making it difficult to focus. They usually develop over a long period.
LIEUTENANT EVA CHOU
In developed countries, people tend to notice this change in their vision a lot sooner because we use our eyes all the time to read, for the computer, to go shopping. But out in these rural areas it's more difficult for people; so these cataracts are much more mature.
VOICEOVER
Mature cataracts are common in poorer countries. Removing them depends less on advanced technology than on the surgeon's skill.
LIEUTENANT EVA CHOU
We're using a technique that was developed in India for people who have waited so long for their surgeries that the modern type of procedure would just be disastrous.
VOICEOVER
Juana's operation has started. We'll be showing it in some detail. Surgeons open up the capsule that contains the cataract.
LIEUTENANT EVA CHOU
We can create some space between the cataract and the capsule itself and fish it out of the eye. There it is, that is the cataract.
VOICEOVER
The cataract pops out. It is almost one centimeter long. It's this thick, dark build-up that was blocking Juana's sight. A permanent plastic lens is now implanted in her eye to restore her vision. A few stitches and it's over.
LIEUTENANT EVA CHOU
We're almost done.
VOICEOVER
This surgery takes less than an hour. The team will conduct over 300 cataract surgeries during this mission. Next morning, Dr. Chou checks Juana's progress.
LIEUTENANT EVA CHOU
Relax both eyes for me. Okay. We're just going to test your vision now.
JUANA MEJIA
I can see the things over there. The bed, something green, and something white.
LIEUTENANT EVA CHOU
Very good. This is a patch that I want you to use to protect your eyes.
VOICEOVER
Procedures like this could improve the sight of millions.