Garden City residents Dr. Gerard D’Aversa of Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island (OCLI), and his son Jerry, a junior and pre-med student at Manhattan College, recently returned from participating in a medical mission trip to Grenada, West Indies. Dr. D’Aversa, a board certified ophthalmologist with vast experience in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery, performed sight-restoring surgeries for area residents seeking medical assistance. Jerry assisted in the OR, conducted pre and post- operative examinations and distributed eye medicine to the public. This was Jerry’s first mission trip.
“This mission trip was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life,” said Jerry. “The reason I wanted to go to Grenada was because I wanted to be involved in restoring vision to people who were in desperate need of health care. My favorite part of the trip was examining patients the day after cataract and corneal transplant surgery. The patients could not believe that they could see again. Everyone was very grateful for our work.”
This was Dr. D’Aversa’s second medical mission trip; his first was in 2011 to Ghana, Africa. On Long Island, Dr. D’Aversa performs eye surgeries at Island Eye Surgicenter in Carle Place. In the past, Island Eye donated much-needed equipment and supplies for Dr. D'Aversa's first mission to Ghana and they coordinated the donations from medical companies and the necessary surgical and medical supplies that were critical to the recent mission in Grenada. Island Eye also provided one of its own surgical technicians, Kadrian Tobias of Brooklyn, who volunteered to accompany Dr. D'Aversa to Grenada and assisted him in the OR.
“I grew up in Jamaica where the quality of healthcare is completely different compared to what we have here in the States,” said Kadrian. “I wanted to share the experience and technology that I have acquired here with those in need in developing countries. I was thrilled that I was able to participate and hopefully made a difference in the lives of those we were able to help.”
“A beautiful island, Grenada offers very little in the way of healthcare,” said Dr. D’Aversa. “While the University has one Phacoemulsification machine for phacoemulsification cataract surgery, the machine is only used when a traveling surgeon, like myself, goes there to perform surgery.” In addition, 2005 was the last time a corneal transplant surgery was performed in Grenada. With no eye bank on the island, Dr. D’Aversa and his team had to bring corneal tissue from the U.S. for use in the corneal transplant surgeries. The Lions Eye Bank for Long Island donated the corneal tissue.
Dr. D’Aversa and his team performed about 30 surgical cases on both men and women ranging from 26 years of age to patients in their 70s. This humanitarian mission was sponsored by a grant from St. George’s University School of Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology, in Grenada, West Indies.