South African surgeons have conducted 68 life-saving operations since they touched down in earthquake-struck Nepal last week, reports News24. The quake has claimed over 7 200 lives and pushed the country into a healthcare crisis, with the already strained hospital system overwhelmed.
The specialised medical team, funded by humanitarian aid mission Gift of the Givers, has been deployed to hospitals across the capital Kathmandu as the injured from outlying areas, who until now had been cut-off by landslides, flood into medical facilities.
Gift of the Givers co-ordinator Dr Qasim Bhorat said that surgeons had worked with medical teams from around the world, in operations completely funded by the foundation. “Our Primary Healthcare team has been out to the villages and touched 435 lives as well,” he said.
In a bid to save her own life, Shanti KC plunged from the first floor of her home in the village of Phutung when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck. She lay writhing in pain before her husband pulled her to safety and, with two shattered heels, has lain in a Nepali Hospital since her home was destroyed.
News24 reports that in a district hospital with a backlog of 100 surgery patients and with no money, the prospects of recovery seemed dire. Part of that desperate 100, Shanti lay in her bed as Durban surgeon Leon Moodley conducted ward rounds as part of an outreach mission by Gift of the Givers.
“When we first did our rounds, I met the patient and she told us when the earthquake started she feared for her life and started to run down the stairs, but they had already began cracking and then she jumped from her balcony and landed on her heels,” he said. Moodley explained that she had shattered both her heels, any injury that could be debilitating if left untreated.
“She sustained fractures of both her heel bones, which were shattered into pieces, and she had a lot of swelling, so we decided to take her to theatre after she had been waiting for a number of days,” he said. “The problem with the hospital that she was taken to was that it was a private hospital and she needed to pay for whatever services she got. The Nepal government made a decree that all health services were free but this hospital had no funds available to buy the implants that she needed and they were waiting for that money,” Moodley added.
“We stumbled across this hospital and we decided to offer them the help of buying the implants and doing the procedures so that the patients didn’t have to wait any longer and they didn’t have to pay. We took her into theatre and we operated on both her heels, putting in screws that basically fixed the fractures in place and put her in plaster casts thereafter,” he said.
“The prognosis for Shanti is excellent now that we have fixed the problem, and if we hadn’t she would’ve had severe deformities of both her ankles and she would have had serious difficulty in walking. Now that we have intervened we have restored the ankle joint and it will heal in a good position and she will recover in a reasonable time,” Moodley said.