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Case Study - Ahmed Sadiq


Mr Ahmed Sadiq, a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, has been at the Trust for more than a decade. He works at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and not only performs his clinical duties which include eye surgery, but he also interviews for the Medical School, and teaches medical and optometry students.


He has been on countless humanitarian missions across the globe. These have included Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan and now Kenya. In his early volunteering days, he initially went in a clinical capacity but now mainly trains clinicians in the countries to be able to carry out operations and procedures independently. 


Ahmed’s first volunteering abroad experience was in 1994 when he went to Nepal for ten days performing cataract surgery as a young registrar. He went with a consultant to gain experience. 


Ahmed said that there are several differences working aboard compared to his work in the Trust. He said: “The standards in which you work in are usually much lower and the surgical equipment may be different to that you have worked with. Any injections such as local anaesthetic may not be as strong and you do not have the whole gamete of equipment you might need. It is much harder work, usually because of the poorer environment. 


He added: “Usually it is hot and you are not used to working in a hot environment with air conditioning that can go on and off.” 


Ahmed said that many of the people who come to the clinics often have extreme disease, whereas in this country it may have not reached that stage. There are people looking for a second or third opinion as so far no-one has been able to help. The variety of eye problems he sees is very diverse as he has seen people with eyelid malposition, in-growing eyelashes, cancers and those in need of cataract operations. 


When he prepares to go out to a country on a volunteering mission, he will ask colleagues for equipment that is no longer in use such as glasses and lenses for cataract operations, which may be useless to them, but desperately needed in developing countries. 


Although Ahmed recommends starting volunteering early on in your career, he feels it is beneficial shadowing somebody on your first trip to ensure you can learn the ropes before taking the step to travel alone. He believes that although you will go to these countries with your existing skills and experience you need a willingness to learn as some of the situations you face will be remarkably different to your day job. 


Ahmed said: “It can be quite hard to find opportunities with a charity that are not only suitable for your aim, but also that fit in with you. I go when it is convenient for me. It is important to have your family’s support as you may be away for two to three weeks.” 


He said that volunteering aboard is immensely rewarding as it provides stimulation and can help aid your own your career, but he also takes pleasure in imparting information and improving patients’ conditions. However, the downside includes the financial implications and getting adequate leave to be able to achieve your aims.