Lifeline Express is a rainbow-coloured hospital eye-train that provides free cataract operations to patients in China. The development of Lifeline Express is supported by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Railways and Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. It is funded by Lifeline Express Hong Kong Foundation,Lifeline Express China Foundation and the general public.
Lifeline Express restores sights to the cataract patients in rural China. The Ministry of Health estimated that 1 million cataract patients are remain uncured, with an increase of 0.5 million new cases every year. People suffering from cataract grew younger in remote areas due to unsatisfactory hygiene condition and demanding physical laboring; more and more are diagnosed as genetically inherited. Lifeline Express brings back lights to the patients, allowing the people to pick up their work in the fields again and help the poverty-stricken areas to retrieve work force, thus improve their livelihood. While working on the eye-train, eye-doctors are trained to facilitate the future development.
This organisation has replicated the Lifeline Express created in India by the Impact India Foundation. In 1996, Impact India came to Hong Kong to raise funds for this work. Some of the individuals they approached for support quickly saw the potential for mounting a similar operation on China’s mainland. A group of Hong Kong philanthropists visited India to see the Lifeline Express in action, discussed the idea with China’s Ministry of Public Health. Celebrating Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty to China, Nellie Fong Wong Kut-Man, the Founding Chairman of Lifeline Express Hong Kong Foundation, together with twenty other Founding Trustees raised the capital for the first eye-train. On 1 July 1997, the first eye-train started its first journey of vision. In 2002, the Chinese Foundation for Lifeline Express was established and widened the network of sponsorship.
Over the past decade, the eye-train s of Lifeline Express visited over 27 provinces, cities and autonomous regions and cured more than 100,000 cataract patients in the remote and poverty-stricken areas of China. Lifeline Express' hospital trains together visit twelve locations and perform over 11,000 surgeries every year. Train stays at each location for 3 months, performing 25 free eye operations every day for a total of about 1000 patients having their eyesight restored at each stop. The first eye-train was launched in 1997, the second in 1999, the third in 2002 and the fourth in 2009.
There were 12 team members, including doctors, nurses, engineering technician and administrative staff recruited from the mainland hospitals, staying on each eye-train running the daily operations. Voluntary ophthalmologists from Hong Kong and overseas spend their vacations on the train to perform surgeries.
There are 4 compartments on the eye-train. Each train consists of medical equipment and eye-care technology. Other facilities are also available on the train:Consultation clinic
2 Operating theatres
Multi-function conference room
Living quarters for medical staff
Lifeline Express has set up 12 Microscopic Eye Surgery Centres to train eye-doctors in China. The Centres are equipped with the latest surgical equipment and eye-care technology. Its ultimate goal is to set up Centres in every province the eye-train visited, namely the less developed provinces. Doctors can received training and sit for the global exam host by the International Council of Ophthalmology.
In the past, many living in the remote area of China could only bath in ponds during summers, and often not to bath in the cold water during fierce winters. Hygiene condition deteriorated and diseases raged. In 2006, Lifeline Express started a new project in China, building solar hot water system for the rural schools to supply hot water for the village students.