Three knee surgeons from Fortius had to operate with power tools from a hardware store rather than a medical equipment supplier, when they went on a surgical relief trip to Tanzania.
Consultant Knee Surgeons Mr Adil Ajuied, Mr Giles Heilpern and Mr Martin Goddard were part of a group of eight orthopaedic surgeons who spent 10 days at the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) in Dar es Salaam, the national reference centre for orthopaedics for both Tanzania and East Africa. They also visited a hospital in Zanzibar and an orphanage for disabled children.
During their stay the group performed around 30 surgical procedures on patients from age six to 60. They held daily educational seminars for surgeons from across East Africa and also taught when they were in theatre.
Fortius was one of many companies to donate approximately £2 million worth of equipment for the trip including crutches, braces and theatre equipment.
Adil said: “Tanzania is very under-resourced in terms of healthcare. It’s a desperately poor country and they have no funds for medical equipment and implants. In all my years as a surgeon, I’ve never had to use domestic equipment in an operating theatre setting. MOI is a specialist orthopaedic hospital and treats people from across the entire country. They are amazing people and it was rewarding and humbling to be able to make a contribution.”
The trip was led and organised by the clinician group and supported by the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA) and medical equipment companies including Smith & Nephew, Hospital Innovations and Ossur. In his role as vice president of the BOA Fortius Consultant Knee Surgeon Mr Mark Bowditch was also a key contributor to the initiative.
The surgeons are keen to repeat the trip in 2 years’ time.
Giles said the gratitude of the patients they treated and the doctors they educated was overwhelming.
He added: “They have so little and yet achieve so much. Everything is reused including such simple things as scalpel blades. We take for granted the abundance of resource that we have here. I sincerely hope that as well as treating some patients our education will lead to the better treatment of many more. And note to self: ‘I will endeavour to never again complain about lack of equipment’. We do not appreciate how fortunate we are! Many thanks to all those who supported this trip.”
Martin said the challenges the group encountered were immense but the resilience and determination of the local people inspired him every step of the way.
He said: “The gratitude and relief on the faces of our patients, young and old, were immeasurable. It was a humbling experience to witness the transformative power of healthcare, as we saw hope being restored and lives being changed for those less fortunate.”