The desire to do well by your fellow man is inherent in most applicants to medical school. The idealism that one faces when you enter into that academic program is colored by your upbringing. My earliest recollection, growing up in the third world, was the mere struggle to survive. Basic sanitation and health needs were unmet, leading to vicious cycles of poverty, malnutrition, and early demise. If my life was going to be of any value, it would be to improve the lot of the many in our world. Which discipline of medicine has the greatest impact value? It became clear that ophthalmology was to be my path. Through a very brief procedure ( a cataract removal surgery), the blind can see again! Fully a third of the brain can be reawakened to the vast array of visual stimuli, a blind person can work and feed their family. So I chose ophthalmology and naturally gravitated to conjuring the logistics of transporting a modern operating theatre into a developing world – what equipment is essential, what equipment can be improvised, how to move a team efficiently through remote areas of the world etc.? There was precedent. I researched organizations that had already done this type of work. Over the years I have made incremental improvements in developing my own methods and delivery of care that ensures the greatest impact value. That has been my modus operandi. Twenty five years later, the assembled teams can now, almost routinely, reverse blindness for hundreds, efficiently and safely!
The Give Me Sight Foundation (GMSF) came about when many of my patients expressed an interest in assistance and involvement, typically phrased as, “Can I come along and just carry your bags”. This was very touching and clearly states the inherent compassion in human nature. The naming for this foundation was serendipitous. Joy and I were preparing for the second annual Night For Sight benefit concert, and ‘Give Me Love’ by George Harrison was chosen as one song we would perform. Joy said that that was basically an extension of giving people their vision – giving them love, or better yet, giving them love from Americans, reaching across oceans and continents to make their lot in life dramatically improved.
– Dr. John Haines