Heroes of Orbis: Dr. Sherif El-Defrawy

Since 2006, Dr. El-Defrawy has volunteered on ten Orbis projects, helping people from countries such as Niger, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Mongolia and Syria. We talk to him about the joy he feels seeing someone regain their sight and the importance of encouraging the next generation of Canada's eye care workers to learn about and support Orbis.

Dr. El-Defrawy was first introduced to Orbis by his good friend Dr. Garth Taylor, himself a veteran of 113 Orbis projects before he sadly passed away in 2005. As a member of the Orbis Volunteer Faculty, Dr. El-Defrawy has performed countless sight-saving surgeries and provided invaluable hands-on training to many local ophthalmologists specialising in cataract surgery.

For Dr. El-Defrawy, experiencing someone's joy at regaining their sight is a very special feeling. As is knowing the local medical teams are well-equipped to continue treating patients in their own community long after Orbis have gone.

Nothing feels as good as seeing someone regain their sight, especially when you know what that person’s alternative is.

Dr. Sherif El-Defrawy

Chair, Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences at the University of Toronto.

Like his mentor, Dr. Taylor, Dr. El-Defrawy fully understands the importance of ensuring future generations of Canadian eye care professionals experience Orbis and our work around the world. This is why he regularly tooko his own resident doctors from the University of Toronto along with him to share in this experience. “These are eye-opening events for the residents. They realize the impact that Orbis has. It also gives them a perspective you can’t otherwise give”.

He strongly believes that ‘it’s not until they do some of the outreach work with Orbis that they realize how fortunate they are as physicians in a developed country’. By sharing his experience and passion with his residents, Dr. El-Defrawy hopes to create a lasting bond between the work of Orbis and the next generation of Canadian ophthalmologists.