Last month, a group of Birmingham hand surgeons travelled over 4,000 miles from Birmingham to Sierra Leone to offer their surgical skills to local people.
The surgeons, who work at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and University Hospitals Birmingham, spent a week in West Africa treating almost 100 patients at The Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, the largest city in northern Sierra Leone.
Hand and reconstructive surgery is very complex and operating in an unfamiliar hospital made it more challenging than usual. Despite the lack of resources and hot weather the team managed to perform 20 operations alongside the dedicated hospital staff.
The trip, which took six months to plan, was initially delayed by an Ebola outbreak. But with the support of a charity called ReSurge Africa and The British Society for Surgery of the Hand, the trip was a success.
Mr Michael Waldram, Clinical Director of Hand Surgery at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Northfield (pictured) said;
“It was a privilege to work with cheerful staff at the hospital and to offer treatment to people who need it. They couldn’t have been more helpful and it really makes you appreciate NHS resources.
Our long term goal is to support the hospital to establish a surgical team. There is a lot of need in Makeni and we were grateful to offer help in any way we could.”
Sierra Leone has limited access to healthcare following a 10-year civil war which devastated the country. The Holy Spirit Hospital was founded by a local Catholic Bishop in response to the absence of medical care in the region.
The charity ReSurge Africa aim to establish a reconstructive surgery and burns service in West Africa, through the training and empowerment of local doctors, anaesthetists, nurses and physiotherapists.