The Power List 2020 – Power List
Director of Cornea, Cataract and Refractive Surgery, Northwest Eye Surgeons and Global Medical Director, SightLife, Seattle, USA
Your three wishes?
Increasing tolerance in societies, decreasing xenophobia, decreasing hatred and fear and increasing acceptance of those of different groups, whether it is based on religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin. Second, positive solutions to curb, end or reverse global warming. Third, an end to the COVID-19 crisis.
Advice for your younger self?
It’s hard to look at things in the retrospectoscope. I am so fortunate to have and live the life I do with family, friends and treasured colleagues. If I had done something differently, I might not be where I am today. Of course I could always wish I could have become more involved with my global work earlier,although it probably wasn’t practical. My younger self had small children at home, and I’m so happy I had time to attend their concerts, school parties, sports and award events, and the like. I wouldn’t have given that up! I always have had the belief that things work out for the best, and have tried to make the most of opportunities. I could have probably taken some additional opportunities or advocated for myself for better contracts when I was first getting started in practice; however, today I am #livingmybestlife so I have no complaints!
The most unexpected turn your career took?
11 years ago I was invited to be a keynote speaker at meetings in India in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. A few weeks before I was to go, there were the terrorist bombings in Mumbai and bombings at hospitals in Ahmedabad. The meetings were canceled. Since I had already bought plane tickets with my husband, and we had both scheduled time off from work and childcare for our kids, we decided to go anyway. I contacted SightLife, a global health organization that had just started its global program with an eye hospital in India. I asked if I could add any value, and they put me in contact with a cornea specialist that was the only one for a catchment area of two million people. She wanted to learn DSEK and advanced PK techniques. We went and I spent time teaching her and her residents and fellows. I realized first-hand the burden of corneal blindness in India and other lower and middle income countries, and the need for additional resources and training. Since that first visit I have returned two or more times every year and have developed cornea transplant curricula and trained many faculty, fellows and residents at a number of eye institutes and hospitals throughout India and Nepal. Global health and the importance of eliminating corneal blindness has become a passion for me. I served as associate global medical director of Sightlife and I am now on the SightLife board.