Japanese eye doctor who wins Ramon Magsaysay Award aims to bring light to the blind
A Japanese ophthalmologist who received the 2022 Ramon Magsaysay Award said Wednesday it was his mission to bring ''gift of sight'' and hope into lives of blind persons.
Tadashi Hattori who provides free eye surgeries and trains doctors in Vietnam was recognized for “bringing the gift of sight to tens of thousands of people not his own”.
“There are those in the dark who cannot see the light every day. They are feeling helpless and hopeless, simply because they do not see the light ahead in life. If there is anything I can do as an ophthalmologist, it is to bring light to such people so that they will turn their despair to hope and light,” Hattori said in his acceptance speech.
Hattori, who also founded the Asia-Pacific Prevention of Blindness Association (APBA) in 2005, said restoring people’s sight was about giving blind people hope.
“As I said, I am by no means an elite doctor. I just feel joy when the patient smiles. When they can see again. I find happiness in working with doctors that I train and providing free surgery for people across the region, in Asia,” Hattori said.
“My wish is to be there where I am needed. Where there are people who want to see the light. Because I know that regaining vision is not only about being able to see but about discovering hope in life. Let there be light. God bless you all,” he said.
When he was 17 years old, the young Hattori had promised himself to become a doctor who empathizes with his patients after overhearing a medical worker disrespect his father who was suffering from cancer.
Hattori said 20 years ago, he left his comfortable life in Japan to address the “shocking prevalence” of cataracts in Vietnam.
Since then, Hattori has treated over 20,000 patients and has performed 40 to 50 cataract operations or six to eight vitrectomies per day, according to the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.
He has also trained more than 30 doctors who can perform complicated eye surgeries and donated medical equipment to hospitals.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s premier prize and the highest honor that is bestowed on people who have offered selfless service to Asia and the world. Jaspearl Tan/DMS