Turia Pitt views our work in Nepal

Anaesthetist Dr Adam Nettleton explains to Turia Pitt what's happening during Monhi's surgery.

In early May, our Ambassador Turia Pitt joined Interplast microsurgery and allied health mentoring teams at our partner, the Kirtipur Hospital in Nepal. After spending a few days at the hospital, Turia met up with her team of Everest Base Camp fundraising legends, who together have raised more than $240,000 for Interplast.
Turia shared with us her thoughts on her experience in Nepal.

The first day I arrived in Kathmandu, I headed straight up to Kirtipur Hospital. Kirtipur is an ancient town in Kathmandu valley, south-west of the centre of the city, where dodging cows who are fast asleep in the middle of the road is all just part of a day’s work.

 

Turia with some of the nursing staff from the Kirtipur Hospital.

As soon as I arrived at the hospital I was warmly met by Jill Dickinson, a long-standing Interplast volunteer nurse who informed me that the Interplast team was in the middle of an operation, and would I like to have a look?

Five minutes later I was all gowned up, and as I headed into the operating room I was immediately left a little speechless by the scene unfolding. Of course, I knew it was a mentoring program – local teams from Nepal had been joined by teams from Bangladesh, all there to train alongside the Interplast team. But what took me aback was that there would have been 40 people in the operating theatre: small teams peering over the shoulders of surgeons, nurses mentoring other nurses on the finer points of procedure and equipment, and anaesthetists discussing the patient. It was quite overwhelming at first.

I was quickly greeted by the rest of the Interplast team including Dr Damien Grinsell (surgeon), Dr Anand Ramakrishnan (surgeon), Adam Nettleton (anaesthetist) and Shannon Bowler (nurse) who were keen to give me a good understanding of what was happening.

 

The patient, Monhi, was 25 and he had a benign tumour in his jaw that had previously been operated on, and had become badly infected. He had been in lots of pain and he couldn’t eat very well. The infection could easily have spread to his bloodstream, which would have made him very unwell.

Remarkably, the operation involved taking out Monhi’s fibula, which is a non-weight bearing bone from his leg, together with the muscle and blood supply, and reshaping it to make him a new jaw. While Damien removed the old plates from Monhi’s jaw and cleaned up the infection, Anand was working on preparing the fibula. This part of the procedure was extremely time-sensitive, with both surgeons then working together to reconnect the blood supply and complete Monhi’s new jaw.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it later. In Laos in 2014, I’d witnessed the life-changing impact of an Interplast surgical program. But what was really hitting home now was the profound impact of the training and mentoring. To see so many surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses and allied health therapists from both Nepal and Bangladesh learning so much from the Interplast team was just incredible.

Throughout the rest of the week, I had a chance to see all the patients, including Monhi, several times. It was so touching to see their progress day after day, and to hear from the Interplast team that they were all recovering well. The diverse range of cases presented had made for an exceptional week of training and mentoring.

At the end of the week, I was joined by the group of 25 people who together were taking on Everest Base Camp as this year’s epic fundraising adventure for Interplast. Together, we’d raised more than $240,000 and I couldn’t wait to show them around at the hospital so they could see first-hand the type of work enabled by their fundraising dollars.

 

Dr Anand Ramakrishnan with Professor Dr Shankar Man Rai and Interplast board President Keith Mutimer.

Led by Kirtipur Hospital’s extremely proud and passionate Director, Professor Dr Shankar Man Rai and Interplast volunteer nurse Jill Dickinson, the trekkers were treated to a tour of the hospital, meeting some of the patients, seeing the facilities, and learning more about the unique challenges facing the hospitals of developing countries such as Nepal.

Like me, the trekkers left more inspired than ever, and passionate to continue supporting Interplast’s life-changing work.

Our trekkers have now returned home after successfully making it to Everest Base Camp. You can support their efforts with a donation on the dedicated website here.

You can also make a direction donation to interplast via our secure online donation page.

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