Captain Martin Hickey: Airline Pilot and a Monthly Supporter of Orbis Canada

Our Orbis Canada programs could not run without the support of our generous donors. As part of our People of Orbis series, we’re sharing the story of Captain Martin Hickey who has been an Orbis monthly donor since 2012.

Captain Martin Hickey is an airline pilot from Montreal, Quebec. His passion for aviation is what inspired his initial interest in Orbis. “I love the way an airplane has been transformed into a flying eye hospital. My qualifications aren’t on the MD-10 aircraft, so although I can’t volunteer my services as a pilot, my family has been a proud supporter of Orbis for many years as a monthly donor.”

Martin at his home, proudly displaying his model Flying Eye Hospital.

You too can become a proud monthly supporter, like Martin.

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Martin first learned about the Flying Eye Hospital while watching a documentary about the plane. He was fascinated by the aircraft and inspired by Orbis’s work to eradicate preventable blindness.

Cpt. Martin Hickey

I was so impressed with the Orbis approach of com­bin­ing edu­ca­tion with med­ical care. Not only do they pro­vide these life-chang­ing surg­eries, but they leave a last­ing teach­ing lega­cy with local med­ical staff to car­ry on their great work. I just had to get involved.

In 2019, Martin and his son were lucky enough to tour the Flying Eye Hospital during the plane’s visit to Canada and meet some of the plane’s staff and volunteers. “Dr. Hunter Cherwek related an amazing story of a surgeon in a developing country who was so skilled and efficient that he could perform over one hundred cataract surgeries in a single day. This to me exemplified the partnership and mutual respect that exists between the Orbis team and local medical staff who together deliver these life-changing surgeries,” he says. Martin was also interested to learn about advancements in the field of synthetic vision, and how restoring sight to people born with blindness is something that could be achievable in our lifetime.

Martin and his son in the cockpit of the Flying Eye Hospital during its visit to Ottawa in 2019.

These advancements are of particular interest to him because both his father and father-in-law have been treated for glaucoma and cataracts. He knows firsthand how important access to high-quality therapies can be. “Because of this treatment, they are both able to see their grandkids! We’re fortunate enough to live in a country where this treatment is available as part of our healthcare system. There are so many people around the world who are not so fortunate, and by supporting Orbis, you can help make this treatment available to thousands of people every year. Orbis changes lives, and supporting this great charity lets you be a part of it.”

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