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Sen. Paul, Trump help U. eye docs care for poor in Guatemala

First Published      Last Updated Aug 29 2014 12:34 pm

About 230 Guatemalans now have improved vision and they can thank the University of Utah's Moran Eye Center, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Donald Trump among others.

The week-long charity trip concluded Sunday, and brought increased attention to the surgical missions Moran doctors take regularly.

Paul is an ophthalmologist and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, and as such he brought an entourage, including some political advisors, a documentary crew and five reporters.

Earlier this year, Paul, a Libertarian-leaning Republican from Kentucky, decided he wanted to hook on to a charity trip and called the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS). The Society sent him to Moran and they worked out the details.

So where does Donald Trump come in?

The trip cost about $50,000 and Paul made a few calls to donors to help cover that bill. Trump kicked in $10,000 as did the ASCRS. Anonymous donors gave another $15,025.

Paul and two doctors who used to work with him joined five physicians from the Moran Eye Center and their larger surgical team. They set up camp in a clinic in the remote Baja Verapaz region. Patients, primarily older people with cataracts, traveled from the surrounding area for the free care.

Moran doctors plan to return to the same area in Guatemala for more surgical missions in future years.