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Day four - Difficult decisions

Friday, 27 November, 2015
Day four – Difficult decisions

The team had a very busy day ahead as the surgeons were beginning their planned theatre lists. Everyone was feeling anxious  as we were very  aware of the surgery some of the patients were going to have to go though in order to get better. For some, it was a fight for survival.  

Little four year old Jackson was the first patient to undergo surgery with Jeremy and Mohammed. Unfortunately the burns on his lower arm and hand and the level of infection and disability which had resulted, meant that he was going to need an amputation in order to live a healthy life in future. He is such a quiet and cute little boy with huge beautiful eyes that just melt your heart.  Although we all felt incredibly sad about his situation, we knew that this surgery was going to give him the best outcome.  

The burns theatre team (Jeremy, Mohammed, Kirsty and Adrian) later explained that Jackson’s surgery went really well and that he should recover quickly, but carrying out the operation and anaesthetising him had been a challenge. Listening to them talk about  other operations  they’d done,it sounded like they’d had a pretty trying day, both emotionally and physically. To add to this, Jeremy  was currently considering whether he should operate on 10 year old Hattibou (whom we met when we first arrived). Hattibou’s condition was very critical and, as he was so young and his injuries so severe, surgery would be very difficult and it was thought the anaesthesia alone may be too much for him to go through.  Operating on a patient like Hattibou could be possible in the UK because high-tech specialist equipment is easily accessible, but it would be incredibly challenging in Tanzania with  huge barriers such as lack of specialist plastic surgery instruments. The fact that we had no running water or electricity for the past few hours was a strong reminder of this. As awful as it felt, it seemed that for Hattibou, the comfort of his bed, good dressings and the care of the nurses and his devoted father was the best care for him. This must have been an incredibly difficult decision to make.  

One patient that never failed to put a smile on our faces was Pescalina. She  had been operated on by Jeremy last year and had returned to undergo further surgery to release a contracture in her arm. Lots of patients that had had previous surgery seemed to suffer contractures and the team agreed there was a need to work more closely with physio and occupational therapy to try and prevent this from occurring.

Over in the Surgical Sterile department, the film crew were busy with laparoscopic surgeon, Mr Liam Horgan, and Dr Kondo as they sorted through equipment that would be needed the following day. Dr Kondo was delighted by the equipment and incredibly grateful for all the items which had been donated by Mr David Campbell of Sigmacon UK and Storz UK. It was great to watch them both chatting, laughing and discussing their plans for the service. Clearly their professional relationship had evolved into a firm friendship over the years as they’d worked together to introduce laparoscopic surgery to Tanzania.