Tell us who you are and what you do?
I am the chairman and chief surgeon at Trinidad Eye Hospital (TEH). Our vision at TEH is to create a world where everyone sees. I am so motivated by this vision that I have made this my life’s purpose as restoring sight for the visually impaired is my passion.
What motivated you to become a doctor?
Well to be honest, initially, like most 17-year-olds, I had no clue what field of study I would have liked to do. It was something I did because I was a bright student and I won a scholarship which offered me a great opportunity to become a doctor.
While in it, I always had a need to do something for people—a humanitarian need. A desire to serve those who are helpless. I think everyone has this need. I think I was just given the opportunity to do so in a big way and it gave me equally, an enormous amount of satisfaction. I also love that all the people around me get the same level of happiness by contributing to the mission and now, extending it out to the corporate world so they can feel the joy and happiness.
Was the road to becoming a doctor a challenge?
As with any profession and specialty, there will always be challenges. A great doctor is one who navigates those challenges to make a difference in his/her country and in the world. There were many sacrifices studying abroad for many years but coming home to make a difference made it worth all the effort.
How long have you been a doctor?
Since 1992, so, 27 years with 20 years as an ophthalmologist.
What is your philosophy on health?
Health should be for all. No-one should go blind from a condition that is reversible. Glasses, cataract surgery and other eye care interventions, these are all simple solutions to reversible conditions.
As doctors, I think we have a duty to the people to ensure that they have their basic needs met. Whether or not the public health service can deliver it, we must find ways; innovative ways; because we can’t depend on the public health service for everything. We must help ourselves. We have to do what we can for the people because we are capable.
God gave us a gift; he didn’t give it to us to live as kings; he gave it to us to use it for a good purpose/reason. What better purpose than to give sight to the blind?
Why did you establish your practice in San Fernando?
I am from South (Trinidad), I went to school at Presentation College, San Fernando so I feel very connected to the San Fernando community. I also see a lot of diabetic disease in this part of the country and my main surgical skill is repair of diabetic eyes. I am one of the most skilled surgeons in the world in diabetic retinal surgery.
Most surgeons do a fellowship in retinal surgery which lasts one to two years but I have been doing over 400-500 retinal cases for the last 10 years, which means I have never stopped learning and now am a master of this type of surgery. This was always one of my goals to be a world-class surgeon.
What gives you the most fulfilment from this profession?
When I see my patients and they are smiling. They remind me of my relatives, my friends, my neighbours and the joy they feel transfers. If I see 100 patients; I get joy; their joy, from all 100 of them everyday—that’s probably the biggest thing.
What is your most memorable experience as a doctor thus far?
It has to be charity and humanitarian events. We give sight to the blind. People who can’t see, we make them see.
The connection I have to these types of events is something I have trouble describing sometimes as the feeling is so powerful but what I am sure about is that it really makes me happy to help others in this way. I would say that’s really what I’m here for.
What are your plans to impact the future of eye health in T&T?
Our idea is developing and changing with time but always towards the end goal of a world where everyone sees. We want to create a world class eye care system in our country and region.
We want to provide the highest quality of care for citizens who are not very well off financially, but we want to serve people from all different socioeconomic backgrounds as citizens from the higher income bracket also deserve the best care possible.
What is your dream for T&T in terms of eye health?
We are going to give you the highest quality of eye care. We will create a beacon of light for our country and region. We will be of service to all the stakeholders in eyecare both in the public and private systems working together to realise our vision for a world where everyone sees.
Any words of advice you would like to offer to the people of T&T?
Change is coming, be patient and don’t lose hope.
We are also going to be training people to deliver eyecare; not only for this generation but to every generation that follows.