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16 Apr 2014

Nepali toddler receives 5000th free surgery from San volunteers

A 2 year old toddler walks for the first time in a small hospital in Nepal thanks to the San’s Open Heart International volunteers.


Open Heart international (OHI) is the humanitarian aid program coordinated by Sydney Adventist hospital.


18 months ago Nishant suffered severe skin contracture at the ankle and knee when he was accidently burned on the cooking fire in his own home. His family feared he would never walk again.


Nishant’s mother Harimaya heard the Open Heart International volunteers provide free burns contracture surgery. She travelled for 3 days with her son from Kailali in far western Nepal, 800km south-east to Banepa (26km outside of Kathmandu) to their seek help.


Open Heart International reconstructive surgeon Dr David Pennington a 23-strong medical team met Nishant and operated on him during their 10 day trip.


Dr Pennington said two days after surgery Nishant was walking with assistance, and that in time he will have normal movement.


His mother watched him take his first steps with great pride. Prior to the operation he could only extend his leg at a 60 angle.


The OHI team will return to Nepal next year to operate on his ankle.


The team operated at the Scheer Memorial Hospital in Banepa. They have been travelling to and operating in to Nepal since 1989.


Burns are the second most common injury in rural Nepal accounting for 5% of all disabilities. Government hospital networks cannot cope with the demand for surgery.


Many Nepali women and children are burned at home on their cooking fire which is traditionally situated on the floor at the centre of the household.


Often there is no immediate or adequate first aid, and as a result their burns heal fusing the skin and severely deform their limbs.


Nishant’s case was special to the OHI team. He was the 5000th patient to receive free life transforming surgery from the program which began in 1986 when a SAH nurse visiting Tonga was appalled that Australia’s neighbors were suffering from conditions readily treated here.


Today OHI provides free cardiac, orthopedic, ophthalmic, women’s health and burns surgery in 13 developing countries around the world including Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and Rwanda.


More than 2,000 Volunteers have donated their time, skills and expertise and contributed financially towards trip expenses to enable others to live longer and better quality lives.

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