FedEx aircraft to be converted into Flying Eye Hospital

FedEx Express has donated an MD-10 cargo aircraft and $5.4m in cash and contributions to set up a new “Flying Eye” hospital to help reduce avoidable blindness in developing countries. The shipping giant is working with the NGO Orbis International to provide the next Flying Eye Hospital, an aircraft fitted out with a fully-functional state-of-the-art eye hospital on board.

Orbis operates its Flying Eye Hospital around the world, stopping off in developing countries to provide training for local medical staff as well as surgical demonstrations to build the skills and knowledge needed to help prevent avoidable blindness including conditions like cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

Around 80% of the 39m cases of blindness around the world can be avoided, with 90% of the people affected being located in developing countries.

The current Flying Eye Hospital launched a North American tour yesterday, which will raise awareness of the issue of avoidable blindness within the developing world in cities including Los Angeles, Dallas, Toronto, Ottawa and FedEx home base Memphis.

FedEx has supported Orbis International for almost three decades. Its $5.4m donation will cover the next five years, and follows on from a similar $5.5m donation made back in 2006.

Along with financial support and the MD-10 aircraft, FedEx provides volunteer pilots for the Flying Eye Hospital, along with maintenance support and training.

The next-generation Flying Eye Hospital will take the form of a MD 10-30 freighter aircraft, which will be fitted out with special first-of-their-kind modular units by Mobile Medical International Corporation.

James R. Parker, executive vice president at FedEx Express air operations said: “We’re taking our work together to the next level by creating the next generation Flying Eye Hospital, which will significantly improve the lives of millions of people around the world who otherwise would have been blind, but now will experience the gift of sight.”

Since 1982, Orbis has taken its work to more than 85 countries, improving the lives of more than 15m people.

Dr. Barbara DeBuono, president and CEO of ORBIS International, said: “Through the support of companies like FedEx and the hundreds of doctors, nurses, technicians, engineers, aviation staff and pilots who have dedicated their considerable time and talents we have been able to save sight for millions of people around the world.”

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