TAPIS / ULTRAFABRICS donates to Orbis Flying Eye Hospital redesign, and celebrates its return to on-board surgeries
Tapis/Ultrafabrics, the world’s top producer of aviation textiles, is pleased to announce that its donation partner The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital – the world’s only fully accredited ophthalmic teaching hospital on an aircraft, has returned to on-board and in-person surgeries after the COVID pandemic. The Orbis MD-10 aircraft was refurbished using over 200 yards of donated fabric from Tapis/Ultrafabrics.
The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital is a mobile teaching hospital that travels the world providing vision-saving eye surgeries and training to local eye-care teams. It’s a global organization that brings people together to fight avoidable blindness and vision loss and help ensure no one loses their sight to preventable or treatable conditions. Orbis’s cadre of more than 400 volunteer medical experts – including doctors, nurses, and others – carry out training and procedures free of charge to the globe’s most vulnerable and underserved populations. The pandemic slowed their ability to reach their neediest patients, but in spring of 2023, 5-year-old Han and her parents took a two-hour motorcycle ride to the Orbis aircraft in Can Tho, Vietnam, to have the first surgery conducted on board after a long pandemic moratorium on in-person treatment.
Han is an artistic and vibrant 5-year-old girl who lives with her family, who are rice farmers, in the Soc Trang province in the south of Vietnam. Since birth, Han has suffered from a drooping eyelid (congenital ptosis) obstructing vision in her left eye. After an unsuccessful local surgery, Han bravely took the long motorcycle ride to the Orbis plane and allowed a team of international and Vietnamese surgeons to perform the life-changing procedure to fix her condition.
While being equipped with the latest medical and diagnostic equipment, the Orbis plane is also the world’s only fully accredited ophthalmic teaching and training hospital on an aircraft. For over four decades, the Flying Eye Hospital has travelled the world delivering best-in-class training for eye care professionals in areas with the greatest need. The entire plane is linked up through an advanced audio-visual system, meaning those in the classroom can watch surgeries happening in the operating theatre live in 3D – making it as close to the real thing as looking down the microscope yourself.
Matthew Nicholls, Director at Tapis, says, “We are continually inspired by innovations in the aviation market, whether working with clients in space travel or the future of budget transportation, but the integration of design and technology in this MD-10 aircraft is the type of pioneering breakthrough that keeps us passionate about aviation design and truly serving the end user.”
The Tapis and Ultrafabrics teams were thrilled to donate fabric to refurbish the onboard seating, an area crucial for training the next generation of eye care teams around the world. As a supplier of fabric for commercial, private and aerospace aviation, the Tapis/Ultrafabrics teams brought that knowledge to the table when choosing the ideal performance qualities, maintenance and aesthetics for the Orbis seats, which double as a classroom for medical professionals around the world.
Barry Silverman, Vice President of Marketing and Brand at Ultrafabrics, says “Our focus in serving our aviation partners is about bringing the highest quality fabric solution to brands that are innovating in their field, and Orbis exemplifies that. We focus on serving the end user and work back from there. Seeing the integrated aircraft seating being used to expand the impact of training, and being used as a seating area to bring the team together while watching live surgeries, is a true innovation. Hearing about Han and her family being the first patients to return to the Orbis operating room since the pandemic really takes up space in the hearts and minds of the entire Tapis/Ultrafabrics team. We are grateful to have contributed a small part to this amazing organization.”
“When refurbishing our one-of-a-kind aircraft, the Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, we are always so grateful to receive a donation like we have from Tapis/Ultrafabrics. Such generosity makes it possible to keep our funds directed toward our sight-saving work. In this case, we refurbished the seats in our classroom, where eye care professionals receive the knowledge and skills needed in their work to eliminate avoidable blindness and vision loss,” says Bruce Johnson, Director of Aircraft Operations and Maintenance at Orbis International.
Orbis has been fighting avoidable blindness and vision loss around the world as a non-profit organization for over 40 years. While Orbis’s work began with the Flying Eye Hospital, their work has evolved to include a telemedicine platform, Cybersight, that provides world-class training virtually to eye care teams in over 200 countries and regions as well as long-term programs in places like Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, both by building partnerships and working with local governments to create meaningful change. Tapis/Ultrafabrics is proud to use their knowledge and product to support their incredible work.
More on Orbis and how to support them here.