MAY 14, 2015
It was natural for Dr. Pravin Dugel to travel to Nepal and join the recovery effort following last month’s devastating earthquake. He was born there. Dr. Dugel moved at age 4, but family remains and he continues to visit every 6 months.
Then there is his friend, Dr. Sanduk Ruit, founder of the Tilganga Eye Institute. Dr. Dugel's trips home took on a new focus recently, as he worked with Dr. Ruit to establish a retina program in Nepal and in other countries that Tilganga supports.
So when the 7.8-magnitude quake hit on April 25, killing more than 6,000 and injuring almost 14,000, he didn't hesitate. He mobilized his friends from the USC Keck School of Medicine, Drs. Carmen Puliafito, Rohit Varma and Mark Humayun, and traveled to the epicenter, the mountain village of Gurkha, to help. Dr. Dugel notes with pride that Gurkha is home to “the bravest of the braves,” as described by the British. There are 26 Gurkha recipients of The Victoria Cross, Britain’s second highest medal for bravery.
Dr. Ruit has set aside his everyday ophthalmology service at Tilganga Eye Hospital to work around the clock, treating patients with eye trauma and other injuries. Dr. Dugel says that the most urgent needs are trauma care for the injured, water purification, antibiotics and blankets for millions of homeless.
Unfortunately, the monsoon season is about to begin and landslides and communicable infectious diseases are likely. With the support of the Academy, Dr. Dugel has set up a fund to support the Tilganga Eye Hospital to distribute food and medicine and provide shelter in the most distant and severely damaged areas. The Academy has also established a fund to further support Dr. Dugel’s and others’ efforts to restore eye care capabilities in Nepal. Donations can be made online.
Dr. Sanduk Ruit and Dr. Pravin Dugel