By BOSORINA ROBBY
PEOPLE with debilitating hand conditions acquired through birth or from burns and accidents can have them surgically corrected at the Port Moresby General Hospital this week.
They will be operated on by specialist team, Interplast Australia and New Zealand, only for plastic and reconstructive hand surgery.
Headed by surgeon Dr James Masson, anaesthetist Dr Steven Cook and nurse Jeremy Moles, the team will
be operating on 22 patients whom they consulted with on Monday.
Since yesterday, they have operated on four patients and will be operating on five or more in the days to come.
Dr Masson said they were reluctant to turn away a number of the patients but had to do so due to their
limited resources and time.
He said they had to only treat patients whose injuries, such as tendon injuries, could be sustained after surgery without complications.
“We’re being realistic as we don’t have much time to operate on those whose cases are nerve injuries and
other time-consuming cases,” Dr Masson said.
“We have to work on as many as we can in this short time frame. But if we have time, we will fit in these other patients,” he added.
Many of the patients seen had hand deformities from fire burns and bush knife cuts, with a 17-month-old child being operated on for bad fire burns.
The aim of the team is to train local doctors on techniques of hand surgery so that in time, they will be the ones to conduct these operations.
For PNG, the only plastic surgeon learning under Dr Masson is Madang-based Dr John Maihua.
Medical services director Dr Simon Mete said these types of operations were quite costly, depending on the seriousness of the cleft lips, palates and hand deformities.
“Local doctors can do these operations but leave the complicated cases to the experts such as the Interplast team.
“Another Interplast team was recently in Alotau to provide hand, cleft lips and palates surgery and is now in Mt Hagen to provide the same surgical services,” he said.