Eye Consultants of Texas founder Phillips Kirk Labor, MD has made two medical missions to Duhok, Kurdistan in Northern Iraq, bringing advanced ophthalmic technology, equipment and training to benefit local residents and doctors greatly in need. In 2009, Dr. Labor was the first U.S. Ophthalmologist ever to visit this region, and the first Western Ophthalmologist Northern Kurds had seen in more than 15 years.
The mission was such a life-changing experience, Dr. Labor made a return trip to Northern Iraq earlier this year. In addition, he was invited to be a presenter in Duhok and at the First Annual Joint ICS/Operation Hope & AHPBA Medical Symposium in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan. Dr. Labor was one of 10 esteemed surgeons asked to appear at this global event.
Also speaking at the symposium was Dr. Labor’s friend Gazi Zibari, MD, a symposium program director. Dr. Zibari, a native of Kurdistan, was instrumental in securing sponsorships to fund Dr. Labor’s missions and holds high positions at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. Both missions were made possible through the International College of Surgeons (ICS) and Operation Hope. Dr. Labor, along with Dr. Zibari, is an ICS Fellow, reserved for physicians with superior credentials and a well-established international reputation.
As with his first mission, Dr. Labor was examining local residents and performing surgery in a war torn region that has experienced considerable strife for decades. Despite the apparent risks, he was motivated to venture there again. “It is so gratifying to apply my profession to genuinely make a difference. An experience like this is a real gut-check, and makes you realize how fortunate you are in ways that are hard to put into words,” Dr. Labor said.