Plane participating in Huntington Beach's Pacific Airshow has eye hospital on it

The Orbis flying eye hospital plane has traveled to more than 95 countries to perform eye surgeries and train medical staff.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- The Huntington Beach Pacific Airshow will take place this weekend and the Orbis flying eye hospital plane will participate.

The plane is state of the art, and the Orbis staff helps thousands of people with their eyesight worldwide.

Orbis owns the plane and is a global nonprofit organization that focuses on treating blindness across the world.

"It has a classroom, a simulation center, and the operating room. This is a U.S. accredited hospital that started in 1982.

We've gone to more than 95 countries to help train doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, as well as biomedical engineer," said Orbis Vice President of Clinical Services Hunter Cherwek.

The plane is a third generation flying eye hospital. It was built in Long Beach and originally belonged to FedEx, which then gave it to Orbis.

"Because it was a freighter, we had to figure out how we were going to put the hospital in and for us, it was easier to make it modular, so there's nine cargo containers actually that are the full width of the plane that make up the hospital," said Orbis Senior Aircraft Maintenance Manager Valerie Suberg.

"We will do corneal transplants, retina surgery, glaucoma surgery, pediatrics. One third of all of our patients are kids," said Cherwek.

Active and retired FedEx pilots volunteer their own time to fly the plane.

The Orbis team plans a year in advance to travel to a different country.

"We have built partner hospitals all around the world. We built 33 pediatric eye hospitals in India alone," said Cherwek.

"There's nothing more powerful than giving a child their sight back or allowing a grandparent to see their grandchild for the first time," said Cherwek.

The Orbis plane will be flying over the Pacific Airshow this weekend to celebrate their mission to help people and to thank the community who helped get their plane off the ground.

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