(July 21, 2004 Hong Kong) Lifeline Express, a 3-carriage hospital train that shuttles amongst remote regions of mainland China providing free medical treatment for the needy, will make a stop in Sichuan in mid-August to perform eye surgery on patients blinded by cataracts.
Hutchison Whampoa Limited has pledged HK$500,000 to support this operation which is headed by Professor Dennis Lam, Director of the Joint Shantou International Eye Centre and Chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Lam and his team of eye specialists from CUHK will join a medical team from the JSIEC in Sichuan to provide the free treatment on Lifeline Express.
Since the Lifeline Express was established in 1997 to offer free medical treatment for reversible blindness, Hutchison Whampoa has donated over HK$9 million to support its efforts. In the seven years since its inception, Lifeline Express has made its way to 44 remote regions in mainland China and has treated over 40,000 cataract sufferers.
Professor Lam said, Besides being able to offer free eye surgery, our teams of Hong Kong and Shantou eye specialists can share our expertise with local doctors and medical staff through demonstrations and seminars. Sharing our knowledge will enable these doctors to help many more people.
Professor Lam and his CUHK team will stay in Sichuan for about one week, while other medical personnel will remain with Lifeline Express in Guangan city for approximately three months. Once this operation is completed, Lifeline Express will return to Hong Kong for maintenance and prepare for next years missions.
Most of the estimated four million cataract suffers in mainland China live in remote rural areas, with approximately 10% of this population under the age of 20. Without early treatment, they are doomed to a life of darkness and might never gain the ability to learn or to work. The mission of Lifeline Express is to restore their eyesight and give them the opportunity to live life to the fullest.