Dr. Mary Ellaine Diaz, Dr. Leo Francis Pacquing;, Dr. Thonnie Rose See-Pacquing, Dr. Laine Ramirez, and operating staff take a breather before (OR AFTER) the procedure. Photo from Dr. Leo Francis Pacquing                                                

Dr. Leo Francis Pacquing, a Far Eastern University (FEU) BS Biology Batch 2006 alumnus, led the team of experts in performing the first corneal transplant in the Ilocos Region last February 20.

Currently the chair of the Department of Opthalmology at St. Martin de Porres Hospital in Candon City, Dr. Pacquing, said the initiation of the first penetrating keratoplasty in Ilocos Sur is a pivotal step forward for the medical community, mirroring the significant impact of the first vitreoretinal surgery they introduced in 2019.

Aside from Dr. Pacquing who is an ophthalmologist, cataract, and refractive specialist, the team included Dr. Mary Ellaine Diaz (external disease specialist), Dr. Thonnie Rose See-Pacquing (ophthalmic oncologist-pathologist), Dr. Laine Ramirez (attending anesthesiologist), Dr. Laine Ramirez (attending anesthesiologist), Zaida Besting, RN (ophthalmic technician), and Charina Habon, RN (ophthalmic scrub nurse).

“The operation was a medical milestone and also a symbol of hope and progress for the people of Ilocos Sur and its neighboring provinces,” said Dr. Pacquing. “Bringing this advanced care eliminates the need for our residents to seek such specialized treatments far from home, thus reducing both the logistical burdens and the financial strain associated with travel.”

Dr. Pacquing said FEU played a fundamental role in molding him into the person that he is today, professionally as an ophthalmologist and personally as a member of my community.

“The experiences, lessons, and values I garnered there have been integral to my development. Academically, FEU’s rigorous pre-med program in the Arts and Sciences laid the groundwork for my medical career. The curriculum challenged me to excel and instilled in me a work ethic that has been crucial in my medical training and practice. The failures and successes I encountered at FEU taught me resilience and perseverance—qualities that are indispensable in the medical field,” he said.