An Arizona eye surgeon has traveled to his home country for years helping give sight to those who need it most but now he’s working to raise awareness and funds for the effort to help those impacted by a pair of massive earthquakes.
story by: Chris Williams/NBC12
Dr. Pravin Dugel is a renown Arizona retina specialist and surgeon with an office in Phoenix but his recent work halfway around the globe offers a unique look at the devastation in his native Nepal.
When the deadly quake struck a month ago he rushed to help and found himself surrounded by heartache and in the danger zone during a second massive tremor.
Video taken moments after the second massive quake on May 12th shows Dugel tending to a woman in shock.
While it was not his specialty, when tragedy strikes, someone with his world class medical background pitches in wherever and however they can.
“When this catastrophe happened it made sense for me, and it was really a duty for me, to go back and do what I could,”explained Dugel.
He was in Phoenix when the original quake hit April 25th. That tremor killed more than 7,500 people in a region he’s traveled to for years helping bring sight to those in remote areas far from medical facilities.
That important work was only possible thanks to a powerful physician friend who spent years establishing a medical network to bring eye care to those who need it most. Now that network is repurposed and being used to deliver humanitarian aid to the desperate masses.
“They are some of the most resilient, kindest, nicest human beings that you’ve ever seen,” said Dugel describing those he’s helped in Nepal.
Despite widespread devastation, uncertainty and pain he says that you see no looting or violence.
“Lined along the way are thousands and thousands of people and there’s nothing else. And then you realize that all of these people are homeless. They are all displaced. There’s nothing because there are no homes,” explained Dugel.
He called the aftermath a “generational tragedy” describing the story of a family he met in a rural area. The mother and teenaged daughter survived the earthquake but the father was killed.
The couple also have a son who is currently an engineering student in Alabama. Dugel said the family saved every penny to send their son to college so he could better the entire family but now the young man will be forced to quit school, return to Nepal and provide for his mother and sister.
The doctor said he believes that story is more common than most might think and will prevent many families from creating better lives for themselves.
His mission until he goes back to Nepal this summer is to be the voice of those impacted. Dugel is raising funds and awareness and suggests that those interested in helping check out a website that benefits the medical network run by his friend that is now providing humanitarian aid.
You can check out that site by clicking here.