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8 Aug, 2007 03:51

Renowned eye surgeon to get monument in Moscow

A monument to a renowned Russian eye surgeon, Svyatoslav Fyodorov, who would have turned 80 today, is due to be unveiled in Moscow. His pioneering techniques helped restore the sight of thousands of people across the world.

In a place of conflict where differences between people have kept them apart for generations there’s at least one thing they can agree on: Ukrainian-born Doctor Svyatoslav Fedorov was a genius.

From those who studied in his institute to those who travelled the world with him, Dr Fedorov changed not only the world of medicine, but the lives and paths of everyone he came into contact with. Born in 1927, Dr Fedorov revolutionised the world of ophthalmology. He gave sight to tens of thousands of people and was the first person to operate on a healthy eye for cosmetic reasons.

His legacy found its way to the West Bank city of Ramallah where Dr Samer Al-Assi, Palestinian ophthalmologist who studied in his Moscow institute for six years, continues his work.

“Nobody told me that that is Fedorov. I could say this is Fedorov, because he looked like a genius,” Dr Samer Al-Assi remembers the first time he met the Russian surgeon.

Svyatoslav Fyodorov

  • 1927 – born in the city of Proskurov, Ukraine
  • 1952 – graduates Rostov-on-Don Medical Institute
  • 1960 – invents artificial eye lens and its transplantation technique
  • 1971 – develops radial keratotomy – procedure for treating short-sightedness
  • 1980 – heads the Institute of Eye Microsurgery. Pioneers ‘conveyer surgery method’ – several surgeons perform different parts of the operation with the hardest part taken by the most experienced specialist.
  • 1993 – elected State Duma deputy
  • 2000 – dies in a chopper accident near Moscow
  • On the other side of the Israeli-Palestinian border, Israeli ophthalmologist and eye surgeon Dr Isaac Lipshitz echoes the same praise for a professor he says was ahead of his time.

    “He was a symbol for us. He did it not in London, but in Moscow, he had to manipulate the system, to reach for funds and money. There was nobody else he could learn from because nobody else did things like that,” Dr Isaac Lipshitz said.

    “I think that there’s no-one that had such an impact on my career as Fyodorov, that’s the truth,” he added.

    “I owe a lot to him, he was a good teacher, an excellent teacher,” Dr Samer Al-Assi echoed.

    Dr Federov brought his vision to the rest of the world. He built a ship that travelled to all corners of the globe. Aboard was a clinic.

    “I think it was a very successful clinic at that time. It was a wonderful idea, he could treat a lot of patients who couldn’t come. At that time it was the Soviet Union, a lot of people were afraid to come to Russia,” Dr Samer Al-Assi believes.
    It was perhaps inevitable that this born-leader would eventually find himself in politics. He declined a request to be Prime Minister of Russia, but later announced his intentions to run for President.

    When he died in a helicopter crash in 2000, both Russia and the world lost one of its finest visionaries.

    Acknowledged during his lifetime, Dr Fedorov was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union. Had he still been alive today on his eightieth birthday, no doubt he would have achieved more.