Sky Talk

Flying Eye Hospital on display at Fort Worth Meacham Airport

The new Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, which travels across the globe as an ophthalmic teaching hospital, on Thursday, July 7, 2016. North Texans will be able to see the world’s only mobile ophthalmic teaching facility, a unique “flying eye hospital,” this weekend at Meacham International Airport.
The new Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, which travels across the globe as an ophthalmic teaching hospital, on Thursday, July 7, 2016. North Texans will be able to see the world’s only mobile ophthalmic teaching facility, a unique “flying eye hospital,” this weekend at Meacham International Airport. jlmarshall@star-telegram.com

After years of carting around FedEx packages, a retired MD-10 airplane has been turned into a state-of-the-art eye hospital.

The new “Flying Eye Hospital” is on display at Meacham Airport this weekend before it heads off on its first medical mission as part of the Orbis Foundation. Orbis partnered with Fort Worth-based Alcon to outfit the donated cargo plane with the latest technology needed for eye care.

The plane has a 46-seat classroom, a patient care and laser treatment room, and an operating room. It also has 3D filming and broadcast capabilities so eye-care professionals can learn techniques while watching live surgeries as if they were looking through a surgeon’s microscope lens.

“When it lands in a city or a village, students can come on the plane and they can look at and observe an eye surgery in the surgical suite,” said Bettina Maunz, president of the Alcon Foundation, which donated $2 million to build out the plane. “It’s a wonderful mission, and so many people can be helped by it.”

The MD-10 will conduct its first medical mission in September in Shenyang, China. Dr. Steve Charles, a retinal surgeon from Memphis, is one of the volunteers going on the trip.

Charles said he hopes by training eye-care professionals in other countries, more people will have access to quality eye care similar to what is available in the U.S.

“It’s all about leaving behind people that have been trained and then can train others,” Charles said.

The plane will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Adults are asked to make a $25 donation to the Orbis Foundation, and children under 12 years old are admitted free.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

If You Go

When: Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Cornerstone Air Center, 4001 N. Main St, Fort Worth

Cost: Adults are asked to make a $25 donation to the Orbis Foundation. Children under 12 are free.

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