Ophthalmologist's vision helps people of Nigeria

Dr. Kunle Hassan is a man with vision.

A member of the Church who was baptized in Ireland in 1981, Brother Hassan established the Eye Foundation in Lagos four years ago. The purpose of the non-profit foundation is to recruit volunteer eye surgeons, nurses, technicians and others to provide free operations and services for the disadvantaged. The foundation also provides facilities for research and the training of ophthalmic doctors and nurses in the West African nation."Our purpose is the prevention of blindness among the disadvantaged through free ophthalmic service, training and research," said Brother Hassan, a member of the Lagos stake, who is also executive director of the foundation.

Because of the efforts of Brother Hassan and numerous other physicians from around the world who volunteer their time and skills, ophthalmic services are now available throughout the country. Several surgical expeditions have been made to the country during the past four years. The results include:

22,510 less-privileged patients served.

1,005 sight-restoring operations.

2,780 refurbished eye glasses given out at no charge.

In addition, training courses and fellowships have been awarded to Nigerian ophthalmologists to attend lectures, conferences and seminars overseas.

The idea for the foundation was conceived about the same time Dr. Hassan and his wife, Tola, were investigating the Church in the United Kingdom in 1981. He was doing his ophthalmology residency at Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology at Glasgow University in Scotland. His wife, a registered nurse, was working on a master's degree in public administration at Liverpool University in England.

During a three-month training course in Dublin, Ireland, Dr. Hassan sought out a church. He soon met two LDS missionaries serving in the area, an Elder Chapman from California and an Elder Bala from England. Speaking of the first time he attended Church, Dr. Hassan said: "My first impression came with the friendliness of the people and from the young children giving talks."

The Word of Wisdom presented no problem to Dr. Hassan, and after reading the Book of Mormon and James 1:5 from the Bible, he felt something special. He took the missionary discussions with three fellow doctors, but he alone was baptized in 1981. He returned to Scotland and became active in the Church there.

Following her husband's baptism, Sister Hassan noticed a change in attitude and behavior.

"He seemed to feel more at peace with himself," she said, "and he was more tolerant and relaxed. He believed in people." Sister Hassan was baptized later in the year.

Of her, Dr. Hassan said: "Tola also changed after her baptism."

From the moment of their conversion, Brother and Sister Hassan began to build their lives from a spiritual perspective. In Church service, Brother Hassan has served in various callings, including elders quorum president. Sister Hassan has served as a Relief Society and Primary president.

The Hassans returned to Nigeria in the early 1990s to begin their private ophthalmic practice and to establish the Eye Foundation.

The family has remained strong in testimony and strives to serve those less fortunate than themselves.

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