SA surgeon saves Nepalese woman from disability

2015-05-03 21:18
(Jeff Wicks, News24)

(Jeff Wicks, News24)

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Kathmandu - In a bid to save her own life, Shanti KC plunged from the first floor of her home in the village of Phutung when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal nearly ten days ago. 

She lay writhing in pain before her husband pulled her to safety and, with two shattered heels, has lain in a Nepali Hospital since her home was destroyed. 

Speaking to News24 through an interpreter, Shanti said that she had been gripped by fear when the walls in her home started to vibrate. 

Shanti, who works as a clerk, then leapt from her balcony and plunged to the ground while her rural home collapsed in a plume of dust. 

In a district hospital with a backlog of 100 surgery patients and with no money, the prospects of recovery seemed dire.

Part of that desperate 100, Shanti lay in her bed as Durban surgeon Leon Moodley conducted ward rounds as part of an outreach mission by South African aid organisation Gift of the Givers.

“When we first did our rounds, I met the patient and she told us when the earthquake started she feared for her life and started to run down the stairs, but they had already began cracking and then she jumped from her balcony and landed on her heels,” he said. 

“She had a lot of pain at the time of the impact, but still decided that she needed to get up and scramble to safety and there after she was taken to a hospital.” 

Moodley explained that she had shattered both her heels, any injury that could be debilitating if left untreated. 

“She sustained fractures of both her heel bones, which were shattered into pieces, and she had a lot of swelling, so we decided to take her to theatre after she had been waiting for a number of days,” he said. 

“The problem with the hospital that she was taken to was that it was a private hospital and she needed to pay for whatever services she got. The Nepal government made a decree that all health services were free but this hospital had no funds available to buy the implants that she needed and they were waiting for that money,” Moodley added. 

“We stumbled across this hospital and we decided to offer them the help of buying the implants and doing the procedures so that the patients didn't have to wait any longer and they didn't have to pay. We took her into theatre and we operated on both her heels, putting in screws that basically fixed the fractures in place and put her in plaster casts thereafter,” he said. 

Moodley added that the road to recovery remained long for Shanti. 

“It is going to be a slow recovery for her, with her not able to walk for six to eight weeks, and she will have to be in a wheelchair for nearly two months until she is properly healed,” he said.  

“The prognosis for Shanti is excellent now that we have fixed the problem, and if we hadn't she would’ve had severe deformities of both her ankles and she would have had serious difficulty in walking. Now that we have intervened we have restored the ankle joint and it will heal in a good position and she will recover in a reasonable time.” 

Moodley said he had a particular sentiment for Nepal, having started his career in the country studying medicine. 

“I studied in Nepal and I spent six years of my life here as an undergraduate. When I heard about the earthquake and was invited by Gift of the Givers, it was an opportunity to give back to a community that gave so much to me and I found it a perfect opportunity to help those in need,” he said. 

Read more on:    nepal  |  nepal earthquake

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