Global Politics

Syrian Eye Doctor Risks Life To Save Sight

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Dr Aref Rifai, a Syrian-American ophthalmologist has performed more than a dozen surgeries in two northern Syrian towns. ( Photo: Aref Rifai)

The bitter civil war in Syria has placed immense pressure on the country's fragile health care system, with medical assistance especially scarce in contested areas.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

Ex-pat doctors are stepping in to fill some of the void.

Dr. Aref Rifai is a Syrian-American ophthalmologist based in Pensacola, Florida. He's one of a handful of western doctors who have managed to work inside Syria performing eye surgery with some regularity.

A few weeks ago, he operated on more than a dozen patients in two separate northern Syrian towns, often removing shrapnel from the eyes of injured civilians and combatants.

For security reasons, he can't name the towns he has worked in.

Dr. Rifai tells anchor Carol Hills that sometimes the problems in Syria seem overwhelming.

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