Hoping to set up an eye banking system in Cambodia
Thorn Pok comes from the Kanoal province of Cambodia near the capital city of Phnom Penh. His father is a high school teacher; he is the only son with four sisters all of whom are married. His father sent him to the capital city to study medicine after which he did his postgraduation in ophthalmology. He is now working in an eye hospital in Phnom Penh, partnered by Christoffel Blinden Mission (CBM) of Germany.
Early in his career Thorn was selected by Christoffel Blindenmission (CBM) to undergo a short-term program in Ocular Plastics at Moorfields Hospital, UK. In 2004 he visited India and, along with a friend from Mumbai, came to L V Prasad Eye Institute. He was very impressed with the way fellowship programs were conducted here. He also liked the weather in Hyderabad! So he convinced CBM Cambodia to sponsor him for a long-term fellowship in Cornea and Anterior Segment at LVPEI.
Ophthalmologists in Cambodia train to be comprehensive ophthalmologists and do not specialize in any subspecialty. Thorn feels he has spent 15 extremely fruitful months here — he has performed more than 40 cornea transplant surgeries and 45 phacoemulsification procedures. The faculty, as well as his colleagues, have been very helpful. The food, though, was not to his liking; but after battling homesickness blues for three months he decided to stick it out and complete his training.
There is no system for eye donation in Cambodia, corneal tissues are imported from Nepal and patients requiring corneal transplants go to Thailand for surgery. "I want to go back to Phnom Penh and start an eye banking system just like the one at LVPEI," he says. Thorn hopes to start an eye donation movement in Cambodia with the help of LVPEI.
Thorn's wife works as an economist with his nation's finance ministry. The couple have two children.