101-Year-Old Patient Receives Surgery Aboard Comfort

Story Number: NNS110607-07Release Date: 6/7/2011 3:58:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Scott Wojciechowski, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

TUMACO, Colombia (NNS) -- Personnel embarked aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) performed a cataract removal surgery on a 101-year-old woman while anchored off the coast of Tumaco, Colombia, June 6.

Irene Becerra, a native of Araño, Colombia, arrived at the Escuela Max Sedel medical site, June 4, complaining of a headache and loss of sight in her left eye, which the Continuing Promise 2011 (CP11) medical team later determined was caused by a cataract.

Lt. Cmdr. Francine Worthington, the patient administration department head aboard Comfort, performed Becerra's initial screening.

"When I first met Irene, she immediately greeted me with her radiant smile and comforting hands," said Worthington. "Initially, I didn't even know she was 101. When asked what the secret to her longevity was, she told me, 'God's blessing'."

Shortly after her surgical screening with Worthington, Becerra was approved for cataract removal surgery.

"I was nervous at first," said Luz Becerra, the daughter of Becerra, of the trip out to Comfort. "We left it all up to God, but with the wonderful flight crew and medical staff, the flight was calm," she added.

Becerra received her surgery aboard Comfort the morning of June 6. After a two-hour surgery and a recovery period, Becerra, the oldest surgical patient for the CP11 team to date, will soon gain vision from her left eye.

"I want to thank God, the medical staff aboard Comfort, and everyone else involved in making this procedure possible," said Becerra.

Worthington said that she was honored to help Becerra throughout the screening process, which led to her undergoing the life-changing surgery. She added that this surgery is representative of the United States' commitment to the people of Colombia.

"A smile is the beginning of love, and works of love are works of peace," said Worthington. "The partnership begins one person at a time. Ms. Becerra represents the beauty of the Colombian people."

COMUSNAVSO/COMFOURTHFLT supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.

Navy ophthalmologists Capt. William Sray and Lt. Eva Chou remove a cataract from 101-year-old Irene Becerra.
110606-N-QD416-065 TUMACO, Colombia (June 6, 2011) Navy ophthalmologists Capt. William Sray and Lt. Eva Chou remove a cataract from 101-year-old Irene Becerra aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) during a Continuing Promise 2011 community service project. Continuing Promise is a five-month humanitarian assistance mission to the Caribbean, Central and South America. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian A. Goyak)
June 7, 2011
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