PMB surgeon takes lead in Nepal relief efforts

2015-05-04 06:20
Northdale Hospital ortho-paedic surgeon Liven Meneses-Turino. PHOTO: Supplied

Northdale Hospital ortho-paedic surgeon Liven Meneses-Turino. PHOTO: Supplied

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A PIETERMARITZBURG surgeon and veteran missionary is at the forefront of the South African ­disaster relief effort to quake-struck Nepal.

The earthquake has already claimed as many as 7 000 lives and has left more than 14 000 people badly injured.

Northdale orthopaedic surgeon Liven Meneses-Turino, part of a specialist medical team from Gift of the Givers, said that his work was a calling. “I have been a missionary from the time I was born. I came to South Africa as a missionary of sorts and it is part of who I am, and it is why I go with Gift of the Givers on these very important aid operations,” he said.

The seasoned surgeon opened the orthopaedic surgery unit at Northdale Hospital nine years ago, and said that Pietermaritzburg has now become his home.

Speaking of his missions to Haiti, Syria and the Philippines, Meneses-Turino said that it was his obligation to the human race.

“This career as a doctor is largely a commitment to human kind and that is also a reason why I work in the public sector, it is not about money for me.”

He added that the work in Nepal had been rewarding, and said that the rush of injured to the nation’s capital had only just begun.

“We have had busy and rewarding days here in Nepal. We were quick to action with this disaster and luckily were able to wade through the red tape and start working for those who need us most. A lot of people are far away from the big cities and are injured and unable to reach us because of the conditions of the roads,” he said.

“The reality is that now our ­patients are starting to trickle in and the ones we are seeing have ­tremendous complications because of infection and sepsis,” Meneses-Turino said.

He said the delay in care did not auger well for those injured in the quake, who would bear the scars of the disaster long after rebuilding their lives.

“I foresee a disaster in prognosis for those people who are stuck without medical treatment, we will see the second wave of this disaster.

“Those with seemingly less severe injuries will get worse and worse. The death toll may rise, and people could be maimed for life, especially when people present so long after they were hurt,” he said.

• News24’s Jeff Wicks is in Kathmandu courtesy of Gift of the Givers

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