Released by ETMC

ETMC is teaming up with Believe and See, an organization that helps restore sight with cataract surgeries in the country of Togo in Africa, by donating an ambulance unit.

The group restores sight to 100 people each month in remote villages, educates for blindness prevention and provides agriculture training, plus spiritual support.

“We are so pleased that ETMC is able to provide one of our ambulance units to assist people in Africa and provide a mobile cataract clinic to rural areas,” said Elmer G. Ellis, ETMC President/CEO. “Our teal and white ambulances are seen in East Texas, Waco and Pasadena, TX and now you will find one of our units on the roads in Togo. This donation of a former EMS unit represents a unique opportunity for ETMC to impact healthcare half-way around the world.”

Believe and See was founded by Tyler resident Lewis Swann. “Togo has 30,000 children and adults blinded by cataracts,” said Swann. “Malnutrition, contaminated water and the lack of education contribute to the development of cataracts. Half of the blind live too far from a doctor to receive medical care. This gift of an ambulance from ETMC will be very helpful to our organization in being able to bring Believe and See’s mobile cataract clinic to villages all over the country.”

“This ambulance was no longer in service, and we were able to prepare the unit and get it ready for this journey to Africa,” commented Ron Schwartz, vice president of ETMC EMS. “Our team is thrilled to be part of this exciting mission to bring sight for the people of Togo.”

According to the National Eye Institute, a cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most are related to aging. Researchers suspect there are several causes of cataracts, such as smoking, alcohol and diabetes and prolonged exposure to sunlight. Cataracts can affect your vision by reducing the sharpness of the image reaching the retina or creating a cloudy area of the lens that makes vision become blurrier. Cataracts can be treated with surgery by removing the cloudy lens with an artificial lens. Other treatments include new eyeglasses, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses.

“The mobile unit, provided by ETMC, will travel thousands of miles each year to bring surgeons to remote villages to deliver the gift of vision,” added Swann. “It’s an amazing outreach to be able to remove cataracts and have a mother see her child for the first time or a young child be able to see their family, their community. Some of the adults have not seen anything in decades, which in Togo can make it difficult to survive if you are blind.”

ETMC team members and some of their church congregations donated over 400 pairs of sunglasses for patients to wear after the surgery.

The ambulance will travel on a ship to Togo later this year.