DR. ANTHONY ALDAVE on CORNEA ISSUES at WVRC on May 6th
CHRISTOPHER HUGHES led the Pledge. LEAH VRIESMAN gave the Invocation. “Dear Lord, let us take a moment to thank you for all we have been given, and for bringing such a fine group of dedicated and enthusiastic Rotarians together in this room. We ask for your help to give our individual and collective gifts to our community; to regularly renew our intentions: to give of ourselves in ways that make a difference to our families, to our town, to our nation, to a world grown so small it can be explored and conquered with the click of a mouse; to keep our wits during a time replete with distractions and political uncertainty; to maintain focus with determination, and with a sense of humor borne of the knowledge that we are mortal; and, to fuel our work with energy, endurance, and a hearty spirit. For all this, and for a few doses of good luck and grace, we give our thanks. Amen” Lovely, LEAH as expected. Thank You. And once again, LENNY came forward, eager to learn his latest identity. Sure enough, he is a fan of Cinco de Mayo, which we now learn, is based on the victory of the Mexican Militia over the French Army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. This of course required that LENNY should wear an appropriate hat which Prexy ED demonstrated, and it was a big beauty. This led to a lower tone version of You’re a Grand Old Flag.
We had one Visiting Rotarian, Veronica Martinez, our Assistant Governor, from Latinos Unidos, who has been with us several times. PP HOMER NEWMAN brought Special Guest Terry De Souza, who does Real Estate on the Westside. MARK ROGO was pleased to introduce his daughter, Dr. Lisa Rogo, who has just become a Fellow in Medicine with Dr. Schlomo Raz here at UCLA. Jack Paul, another Special Guest, was seated at the Yearling Table he is an Attorney and was introduced by PP STEVE SCHERER, And of course, SUNNY was with LENNY. The Head Table was literally graced by three lovely ladies, ALY SHOJI, LEAH VRIESMAN and NEVIN SENKAN. However, once LEAH admitted that she is a new recipient of a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship, it cost her ten bucks! LEAH will be teaching in Germany this coming year, and thus taking a leave from WVRC.
RICK BROUS came forward to outline the Red Dot Program, which all Yearlings will be tested against. There is a Punch List of events, all of which count toward the 15 you need to escape the Red Dot. Included are wearing your Rotary pin every week, making up, maintaining perfect attendance, attending a Board Meeting, joining a WVRC Service Committee,, proposing a new member, leading the Pledge, deliver an Invocation, greet arriving members, Craft Talks, attend a Yearling gathering or project, recommend speakers, attend a District Breakfast, District Conference, International Convention, or WVRC Social Event and you need 15 to qualify. All are important, and with RICK in charge, you know it will be carefully monitored.
Prexy ED was pleased to announce that both JESSIE ROBINSON and PAULINE HARRIS have accepted our Invitation to become Honorary Members. He also reminded us of the Auxiliary visit next Wednesday, 12 May, to Union Station, followed by lunch, and all based on our own bus picking us up and returning to parking at Westwood United Methodist Church. The bus will leave Westwood at 0945, so don’t be late, please.
Saturday, May 22nd, is the District Assembly at the Carson Community Center. This is a required meeting for new Board Members, and any new Rotary members will find it most informative. You will learn about Rotary at the Club level, District, and International it’s guaranteed to be a winner. Silent Auction items are still needed for the Paul Harris dinner Prexy ED has details.
May 16th, Sunday, WVRC will be the host at the District Conference in La Quinta for the breakfast meeting. We will greet everyone, plus passing out copies of The Four Way Test by our own Myron Taylor. As hosts, we should arrive at 0745, please.
Prexy ED attended the Anti-Gang Forum last Saturday at Cal State Dominguez Hills. The speakers were excellent, and WVRC was awarded a lovely Certificate for joining the 2009-2010 “Peacemakers of 5280”.
STEVE PETTISE introduced our Speaker, Dr. Anthony Aldave, who was accompanied by his wife, Teresa. STEVE had an eye problem, and had heard of Dr. Aldave, so he called for an appointment. He told the receptionist that he had an emergency, but they said the best they could do was August 25th! So STEVE, after thinking about this, called back “Did you hear me say I had an emergency?” Yes, but they had them from all over the world, and the 25th was the best they could do. He called again, asking if the person he was speaking to liked Baja Fresh? She said yes, and STEVE then added, “I have ten free meals for you if you can squeeze me in, please.” So he got in on Friday, at 0730. Dr. Aldave directs the Cornea Genetics Laboratory, in addition to seeing patients and lecturing. He has written over 100 papers, plus 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and has given over 60 lectures all over the world. He currently serves as the Scientific Reviewer for twelve Opthamolgy and Genetics journals.
Dr. Aldave had an excellent Power Point presentation, and began by stating that he would have appeared before this, but Thursdays are his operating day, so it took some scheduling. He did four surgeries this morning, and starting at 1:30 will resume surgery. His plan is to outline what he does outside of UCLA. Since 2005 he has travelled extensively, helping to educate foreign colleagues in the techniques learned here at UCLA. To do this requires funding, so he has established his own Foundation, its object being to spread the word about all types of cornea transplants. He has just performed his 96th Artificial Transplant here in the states. His two colleagues in this endeavor are Dr. Sophie Deng, who is also at the Jules Stein Institute, and Roberto Pineda of Harvard.
Examples of his overseas work includes Armenia, and in India, where they make over one million of the special lenses that are required every year. India, by the way, performs five million cataract surgeries per year the US does about one million annually. Dr. Aldave has just been named Chairman of the International Advisory Committee of Tissue Banks International where he will spend time helping people develop eye banks note you cannot do surgery without a source of tissue, so this is a vitally needed resource.
Cornea blindness affects over three hundred MILLION people all over the world. The cornea is the clear substance that covers the colored portion of your eye thus if it isn’t clear, your vision is affected. Of this total, there are forty five million people who are blind because of cornea diseases, and unfortunately 87% of these people live in developing countries. In India today seven million are affected, and this will rise to ten million by 2020. In Africa, 60% of blindness is caused by cornea disease. In the US we have plenty of tissue, since people are very good about donating their eyes to banks. This is simply a mark on your driver’s license, stating your wishes.
The cornea he inserted just over an hour ago was from a 33-year old man who died three days ago the ‘shelf life’ of a cornea is about twelve days, by the way. But only in the US do we have enough banks elsewhere, religious factors and cultural norms are not favorable, oftentimes. His goal is to go to these other countries, and teach their surgeons how to perform these operations. But of course they also need a source of corneas. His intent, then, is to train the trainers.
A list of recent visits include Armenia, several hospitals in different parts of India, Saudi Arabia, and Nepal, of all places, Indonesia, and in October, Russia. There are about three million people in Armenia the US has a lot more than that but transplants are frequent there, since it has strategic value on the world stage. He gave a detailed description of how artificial cornea transplants work, noting that he had done two of them this morning. Dr. Aldave next told us about a 46-year old man who lost almost his entire vision, and the doctor was able to bring tissue with him. This operation restored his vision, so that the patient could once again support his family. Three years since, he is still 20-40. He showed pictures of an 18-wheel vehicle in which he can perform surgery, and it goes to where it is needed in Armenia. We next moved to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, where they have built a palace of an eye hospital the top floor is reserved for royalty! Saudi Arabia, by the way, is the only country that pays the cost of Dr. Aldave’s visits. His phrase for this type of visit is a Skills Transfer.
Dr. Aldave described in some detail one of his transplants. The new cornea is placed inside the eye by what they refer to as the “Taco” procedure, where it is folded, inserted, and then held in place by an air bubble. He showed some scenes from Nepal, including a sign that indicates the exact spot where Buddha was born which was 600 years before Christ. As he commented, that is pretty good record-keeping… Among his slides were photos of a Fellow trained at UCLA six years ago who now sees over 12,000 patients a year at this clinic. He spends a lot of time in India, and the surgeons there are excellent they have been trained in U.K, U.S., and in India itself, but they don’t know the new techniques. The artificial cornea tissue costs $5,000 per eye. This is an impossible sum for there, so they reverse engineered the process, and can do it now for get this - $38.00; The condition is that it can only be available in India, but it is a huge breakthrough. Dr. Aldave, you have opened our eyes to coin a phrase and we do appreciate your coming to see us today.
This was followed by the usual raffle of a bottle of wine in this case, Francis Ford Coppola’s Diamond Collection Gold Label, which is reputed to be the wine Director Coppola fed to Marlon Brando in-between takes of the Godfather! It was won by PP HOMER NEWMAN.
It seems that Prexy ED will be at the District Conference next Thursday, so P.E. (that’s President Elect, of course) GORDON FELL will preside. That did not preempt the thought for the day: Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dreams closer.