Called to serve: Dr Reden Rabino the ‘Eye Health Hero’

Stories | August 4, 2022 | Author: Michi Nombrado, Senior Communications Officer, CBM Global

On Miracles Day, Australians are asked to donate $33 to give someone the Miracle gift of sight-saving surgery. CBM Australia uses this money to fund eye-health projects in countries like the Philippines, where Dr Reden Rabino, celebrated ophthalmologist at CBM partners EYE hEAR Foundation, performs multiple cataract operations every day.

Whenever I talk about Dr Reden Rabino, I cannot help but feel proud of this humble man who has dedicated most of his life to serving communities with very limited access to healthcare.

I met Dr Reden Rabino in 2017. Prior to our meeting, I heard about him as the doctor who performed almost a hundred cataract surgeries in one day. According to my colleague, there was no trace of tiredness in him even after a very long day. Instead, he smiled and thanked God for the opportunity to help others. That same year, he was dubbed the “Eye Health Hero” of the Philippines by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.

He was also the eye doctor who operated on more than 50 people during Miracles Day. Radio show hosts from Australia witnessed his passion and genuine care for people.
“My passion is to give sight back to the poor and give them a second chance in life,” he says.

True enough, after he retired from being a “Doctor to the Barrio (village)” – a program that deploys dedicated and community-oriented doctors to remote areas in the Philippines, he decided to fully commit to conducting medical missions in impoverished areas.

Last March 15, he was deployed to Zamboanga Sibugay, a remote area in the southern part of the Philippines, for a medical mission. That day, travel restrictions were put in place because of COVID-19. What was supposed to be a five-day medical mission turned into four months of being away from his family.

After his retirement, lodging and allowances are no longer provided. He felt that paying for a room in an uncertain period of time is impractical. Since the lockdown was announced, a local hospital serves as his temporary home. Amidst these challenges, he remains positive and confident in God’s plans. With the area still free from COVID-19, he is making the most of the situation by providing surgeries and eye care to patients from poor communities.

“A lot of things were put on hold during this pandemic, but the mission to prevent blindness should never stop,” Dr Reden says.

There are a lot of changes because of this pandemic. One is the limited patients that he can accommodate. Unlike before, when he can do 90 surgeries in a day, he is now restricted to only 10 people. The strict checkpoints also became a struggle for him and for many patients from far-flung areas because they cannot easily pass through.

To address the situation, they had to provide a list of their patients’ names to authorities in-charge of checkpoints. They cannot go any farther to other communities, and people cannot just go out for consultations. Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is also a challenge because it is laborious. The heat and humidity make it a lot more difficult to bear. However, he understands that it is for the safety of everyone.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who are in line for cataract surgeries are pushed back because of many restrictions. In 2017, Dr Reden told me this,

“There were times when I feared for my life, but all of it goes away whenever I arrive in communities and see the patients whose lives will change with only just a few minutes of operation”. 

This is why he still performs surgeries during the lockdown. A few minutes of his time means a lifetime of change for others.

On Miracles Day, Thursday 18 August, give the Miracle of sight-saving surgery to someone living in poverty. Your $33 donation can change a life forever.

Click here to donate today. 


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