CHILDREN with debilitating burns injuries have undergone life-changing operations in Mt Hagen giving them use of limbs that prior to surgery could not be moved.
The operations are conducted by Interplast, an AusAID-funded programme where volunteer surgical teams travel to Papua New Guinea, to change lives and pass on their specialist skills.
The Interplast Australia and New Zealand team is led by Dr Simon Donahue.
Donahue and a small team of local and Australian plastic and reconstructive surgeons and support staff are in PNG for the second time this year.
Families from across the Western Highlands came to see the team.
Of the 80 consultations, 25 resulted in surgery, 90% of patients were children. This is the team’s sixth visit to PNG since the programme began in 1985.
Amanda John is one of this visit’s successes. A week ago, the four-year-old had no movement in her fingers. Amanda fell into a fire, a common childhood accident in PNG. The upper right side of her body and face were burnt.
Without access to medical treatment at the time of the burn, her arm fused from above her elbow down to her forearm into a triangular wedge.
“This was an extreme case of burns scarring. While the child had grown the scar had not. It had painfully stretched and restricted functions in her hand,” he said.
Donahue and his team spent half a day in surgery with Amanda and it could not have gone better. She may not fully know at this stage how this Australian volunteer surgeon has just transformed her life, but she can feel it.
For the first time in years, Amanda can now spread all her fingers.
“The leverage in the arm will come slowly as she heals from her surgery and her hand is responding well,” Donahue said.
“I am happy for her and her family.”
The team continued their work at Madang’s Modilon Hospital.
“These volunteers are carrying out such worthwhile work,” head of AusAID in PNG, Stephanie Copus-Campbell said.
The team has conducted 70 visits in PNG with 2,058 patients receiving life-changing surgery.