Surgery saves Shayal’s arm

Shayal, a young girl from Fiji, has maintained the use of her arm thanks to a visiting Interplast surgical team.

Eleven-year-old Shayal and her older sister live with their father in a little cottage in Lautoka on the west of Fiji’s main island. Shayal’s father grows vegetables for a local school.

Last November Shayal’s father noticed a lump the size of a peanut on the right-hand side of her neck. The lump was soft inside and grew internally to nearly the size of a tennis ball.

This impacted her shoulder and arm movement as well as her self-confidence.

“I can’t do things that I used to be able to do like carry a bag of rice or do my normal chores,” she said before surgery. “My father even needs to carry my school bag for me.

“My sister and her friends tease me,” said Shayal. “It made me feel bad and very sad.”

As a result, Shayal had taken to playing alone to avoid the teasing, and watched a lot of television.

When she leaves school, Shayal wants to join the police force so that she can help people.

Shayal’s father said: “I thought it was a sickness and tried all sorts of medicine. She was a fast runner and very strong. Now she has no energy and is not happy.

“I prayed and prayed for help. I took her to the [local] doctors. I’m so glad – thanks to God he sent doctors from New Zealand and Australia to help us.”

Interplast volunteer surgeon Dr Craig MacKinnon from New Zealand found that the lump had also grown below Shayal’s shoulder bone and if not treated would continue to grow and slowly weaken her arm and hand, eventually causing her to lose all function in her arm.

After her operation Shayal was frightened to move her head but was feeling relieved that the lump had been removed. Her father was also relieved, and grateful.

“The doctors are very kind, taking their time and doing a very good job,” he said. “My heart and soul and my mind give thanks to them.”

This story was written by Elizabeth Wright, who travelled with an Interplast surgical team to Fiji in July as a Rotarian observer. The program was fully funded by a Rotary Foundation Vocational Training Team grant.

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