The newest version of the Flying Eye Hospital, which features state of the art technology and surgery facilities to train physicians in procedures and help prevent blindness, is unveiled ahead of its first mission to China. Sharon Reich reports.
STORY: This is no ordinary airplane. It's a hi-tech training and surgical facility aboard an MD-10 aircraft. Orbis's newest Flying Eye Hospital is equipped with the latest 3D technology and broadcast capabilities. Opthomologists treat patients and train students simultaneously, from a laser treatment room, an operating suite, sterilization facilities, and pre and post op rooms. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BOB RANCK, CEO OF ORBIS INTERNATIONAL, SAYING: "When you go beyond the barrier and you enter the hospital you really stop feeling like you're on an airplane." That's CEO Bob Ranck. He's standing in the classroom, which is designed to serve as an observation deck. It has 46 seats, two cameras and a microphone and can broadcast between students and the operating room, where surgeons are performing procedures. UPSOUND: Video of eye surgery Opthomologist Rudy Wagner volunteers onboad. He says the technology in this third generation hospital is more sophisticated than in some U.S. facilities. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RUDY WAGNER, VOLUNTEER FACULTY MEMBER AT ORBIS AND DIRETOR OF OPTHAMOLOGY AT RUTGERS MEDICAL SCHOOL, SAYING "You can sit on the front of that plane with a pair of glasses on or goggles and you're going to feel like you are involved in that operation or a part of it. And this is unique, something we haven't seen before." Wagner is one of 400 volunteers who head to developing countries to treat some of the world's 285 million visually impaired people. Each Flying Eye mission is carefully planned about a year in advance and addresses cases and issues that surgeons in the host country face. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BOB RANCK, CEO OF ORBIS INTERNATIONAL, SAYING: "We'll do surgery in two places. Here in state of the art and we'll do surgery in their hospital, in state of the possible. Using their tools to make sure the skills are carried on in their environment after we leave." The Flying Eye Hospital will take off in September for its inaugural program in Shenyang, China.