Russian doctor spreads vision and goodwill in China

By Mi Xingang
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 28, 2017
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Nikola Vasilyevich Dusan checks a patient at the Daqing Ophthalmic Hospital in Daqing City, Heilongjiang Province, on November 23. [Photo by Mi Xingang/]

"When you help someone, his or her smile is the biggest reward for you," said Nikola Vasilyevich Dusan, a 70-year-old Russian ophthalmologist who has been working in Daqing City, in China's northeast Heilongjiang Province, for 15 years. 

Formerly the director of the Ophthalmology Research Center of the People's Friendship University of Russia, Dusan has served as an expert doctor at the Daqing Ophthalmic Hospital since his retirement in 2002. In that time, he has treated nearly 200,000 people and operated on over 2,000 patients in Daqing. 

"That small eyeball under our scalpel represents the patient's hope for their entire life," Dusan reminds the doctors around him. Apart from normal outpatient services at the hospital, Dusan has often held free clinics in rural areas, explaining that "patients there need more care." To date, his footsteps have covered all five districts and four counties of Daqing City. Two weeks ago, he braved chilly weather and slippery roads to complete a free clinic in a village located a four-hour drive from downtown. Dusan saw over 100 patients that day, not even stopping for lunch. "The happiest thing for me is to bring light to patients through my treatment," he expressed. Many of the rural patients gave him vegetables, fruit and home-made tofu as a token of their gratitude. 

At the same time, Dusan has nurtured other doctors at the hospital as well. As advanced technologies are increasingly shared around the globe, the Daqing Ophthalmic Hospital has now imported cutting-edge equipment from some of the world's renowned producers, claimed Dusan. "The key element is to foster the talent to make good use of this equipment," he emphasized. He has given twice monthly lectures to the medical staff and mentored seven younger Chinese ophthalmologists, in their 30s and 40s, including thesis writing and clinical supervision. The seven doctors now practice in their own domains and can complete cataract surgery, corneal transplant, and other complex procedures independently.  

In 2007, an eye bank was established at the hospital owing to Dusan's efforts, and he was the only doctor at that time who could perform the corneal transplant surgery. Under his tutelage, the hospital now has three qualified Chinese doctors who can do the operation. "Dusan has imparted all of his knowledge to us and paid careful attention to the accumulation of cases," said Fu Yanjiang, a student of Dusan's at the hospital who now can do corneal transplant. Since the beginning of this year, nine people in the area have donated 18 corneas, bringing the gift of sight to 17 patients through transplant surgeries. 

Dusan has also promoted pragmatic cooperation between the Daqing Ophthalmic Hospital and the Ophthalmology Center of the People's Friendship University of Russia. A cooperation agreement was signed on June 23 of this year to further academic research, teaching and personnel exchanges between the two entities. The Daqing hospital has committed to become the talent training base for the Russian center based on a supplemental agreement signed this October. 

In 2009, Dusan was awarded the Friendship Award by the Chinese government for his significant efforts in medical treatment and education in China. In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Dusan and 40 other Russian experts who have contributed to China's development, at a series of events in Moscow marking the 70th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War.

Recalling the moment, Dusan's excitement still evident as he alluded to President Xi's urge to absorb more talent and technologies for China's development. "I felt greatly honored to receive the recognition but I gave all the credit to the crew of our hospital," he said. "I am not only an ophthalmologist but also an ambassador of friendship between China and Russia."

Being an old friend of the Chinese people, Dusan paid close attention to the proceedings of the recently concluded 19th CPC National Congress and expressed his confidence in China's future. Dusan suggested that Chinese research teams develop more innovations in medicine, medical equipment and treatment methods, especially in genetics. As for the theme of the congress--remain true to original aspirations and keep the mission firmly in mind--Dusan restated his own original aspiration: to treat more patients and bring sight to blind people. 

"Doctor Dusan is like a torch carrier, walking ahead of us in the darkness," said one patient of Dusan at the Daqing Ophthalmic Hospital. "What we see is the burning fire that shows the direction and warms our hearts." A doctor standing aside, one of Dusan's students, nodded her head, saying "Yes, he also blazed the trail for us."

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