Man wearing eye dressing.

How One Nurse and her Patient Were Reunited on board the Flying Eye Hospital

May 2018

Jose was a healthy, happy five-year-old playing outside near his home in Lima, Peru when he fell victim to a chance accident. Read below to find out more about Jose's story and how he was reunited years later with the nurse who helped him recover from his surgery on the Flying Eye Hospital....

Jose was a healthy, happy five-year-old playing outside near his home in Lima, Peru when he fell victim to a chance accident. Someone nearby threw something into the air and a metal point hit little Jose in the eye. His mother recalls that he had a three-millimeter laceration on his eye. However, his Jose’s mom didn’t bring him to the doctor immediately because he was a strong boy, but neither of them knew how bad the injury really was.

The next day, Jose’s eye started emitting a watery liquid and became visibly inflamed. His mom took him straight to the emergency room where doctors sewed up his eye with a few stitches, but also told them that Jose would likely need a cornea transplant given how badly his retina was damaged. Without the transplant, Jose would likely lose vision in that eye.  

After five days later, a friend working in the local medical community told Jose's mom that Orbis was coming to Lima. Jose and his mom reported to the Instituto Nacional de Oftalmologia (INO), Orbis’s local partner hospital in the city, with hopes of being chosen for an operation.  

Orbis nurses with young patient.

One of the Volunteer Faculty members working on the Flying Eye Hospital with Orbis during the Lima trip was volunteer nurse Sandy
Burnett. She still remembers how her team helped complete a successful cornea transplant on Jose. The positive results of the surgery made an impact on Jose’s life, eventually leading him to being accepted into a Lima university to become an industrial engineer. 

Little did everyone know that many years later, Jose and Sandy would be reunited in the most surprising and unexpected way...


Two years ago, Jose, now an university-educated, working adult in Lima, Peru, was mugged and his attackers gave him a hard blow to the head. The blunt force trauma caused the ocular lens he’d had repaired to shift out of place and threaten his vision once again. Jose, once again accompanied by his mother, went straight back to the team at INO where they recommended eye drops and surgery once again. Jose’s mom said that Orbis was the only team she’d trust with her son’s eyes, given her positive experience. 

Lucky for Jose, Orbis was scheduled to return to Peru, this time to Trujillo. 

Jose and his mom traveled from Lima to Trujillo -- more than an eight-hour drive. Jose needed a complex, the three-part surgery which included both another cornea transplant and intraocular surgery. However, lucky for Jose, a familiar face was there to help him through the preoperative, surgery and post-operative process: Nurse Sandy Burnett. 

Jose’s mom immediately recognized Sandy as the nurse who had tended to Jose all those years ago in Lima. Sandy keeps photos and journals of every community she visits with Orbis. Jose’s mom also brought photos of her own!  

I’m glad we could visit Peru and help in this way. This is the magic of Orbis and the work that we do, helping people to see again, and recover something important --eyesight and a real sense of dignity-- and the future that they’d lost. Jose has grown into such a nice, big, strong, tall man and will be able to continue on better in life now that he has both eyes working properly.

Sandy Burnett

Volunteer Nurse

It’s because of volunteers like the wonderful Sandy Burnett that people like Jose can have their sight restored, and live life filled with sight!

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