TOGO — Dr. Abram Wodomé could’ve left this own country of Togo in West Africa to pursue a successful medical career abroad. But thanks to support from the Christian charity Mercy Ships Dr. Wodomé has chosen to provide vital cataract surgery and medical training in his home nation.
As the country’s leading cataract surgeon, he provides thousands of surgeries every year to visually impaired patients. Many of these surgeries are performed completely free of charge. Any funds raised by patients who choose to pay immediately go toward paying for more people to receive free surgery.
Not content with waiting for people in need to find him and his team, Dr Wodomé goes far out of his way to make free surgeries happen. His team runs door-to-door campaigns in remote regions of the country and even organize transport to the clinic so that patients in remote areas can receive treatment in Lomé.
Dr. Abram Wodomé – Ophthalmologist:
“I remember that in my medical school class, there were 34 of us but currently there are only 9 who remain in the country practicing.
“I am the youngest in a family of 16 children. My father was a carpenter and my mother sold fish at the market. Some of my brothers had to drop out of school very early in order to provide income for the family. I imagined that if I became a doctor, I would be able to travel and settle abroad. It was the way out of the system that didn’t offer me enough chances.
“In 2020 Mercy Ships came to Togo for a ten month mission and I was selected to participate in a train program for cataract surgery. It is a technique that was quite revolutionary in Togo at the time since this technique is best suited for places with modest resources.”
Prior to training with Mercy Ships, Dr Wodome would perform 3 or 4 surgeries per month. Onboard the Africa Mercy he performed 100 surgeries each week.
“You can imagine that under these conditions my surgical abilities could only improve. So I decided from that moment I would serve my people and use my abilities to help those who need them. I must admit that the beginning wasn’t easy after deciding to stay in the country. The working conditions didn’t change, which made practicing medicine difficult and the training was done in conditions with high risk of complications and my wife didn’t believe in it at all.”
Pelagie – Wodome’s wife:
“I asked my husband, what can you expect in Togo. Have you thought about our future, about our children’s future?”
“So from that moment, I said to myself it was impossible and I was ready to give up and leave. But in 2012, Mercy Ships returned to Togo and from that moment on, everything changed. Dr. Glen Strauss and his team gave me the equipment and financial resources to start the clinic. And from that moment on I was able to train more and more people and operate more than I ever had before.”
“And actually, now I am an optometrist and I work with Abram and I share his vision equally.”
“Over the past 10 years, I have operated on more than 15,000 cataracts, trained more than 35 surgeons and also set up an NGO that provides free surgical care to the poor. So far I think I’m on the right track, but I’ve told myself we can do even better. Therefore, over the next 3 years, we aim to train about 18 reputable ophthalmologists. The model in which we are going to train them will be a model in which they can train other people and we hope through this program to provide an additional 4,000 cataract surgeries. I might have been a surgeon like many of my colleagues who have decided to immigrate to the West. But the decision to believe in my country and to have a dream for Togo allowed me to do what I’m doing now. And this is only the beginning.
About Mercy Ships
Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to deliver free, world-class healthcare services, capacity building, and sustainable development to those with little access in the developing world. Founded in 1978 by Don and Deyon Stephens, Mercy Ships has worked in more than 55 developing countries, providing services valued at more than $1.7 billion and directly benefitting more than 2.8 million people. Our ships are crewed by volunteers from over 60 nations, with an average of over 1,200 volunteers each year. Professionals including surgeons, dentists, nurses, healthcare trainers, teachers, cooks, seamen, engineers, and agriculturalists donate their time and skills. With 16 national offices and an Africa Bureau, Mercy Ships seeks to transform individuals and serve nations one at a time. For more information click on www.mercyships.org.
CONTACT: Diane Rickard, Int’l Media Relations Manager, Mercy Ships, [email protected]
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