Doctors pray ahead of landmark neck surgery

2016-11-22 09:24
 Head and neck surgeon Dr Muhammad F. Essa and paediatric surgeon Dr Hansraj ‘Hansie’ Mangray perform delicate surgery on a three-year-old boy with a parotid tumour on Saturday at Mediclinic in Pietermaritzburg.

Head and neck surgeon Dr Muhammad F. Essa and paediatric surgeon Dr Hansraj ‘Hansie’ Mangray perform delicate surgery on a three-year-old boy with a parotid tumour on Saturday at Mediclinic in Pietermaritzburg. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - Moments before a 3-year-old Pietermaritzburg boy became the first young patient to undergo a specialised and rare tumour surgery at Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, the specialists doctors performing the surgery said a prayer.

One of the medical specialists who was part of a team that worked wonders to remove the cancerous tumour on the little boy’s neck, head and neck, surgeon Dr Muhammad Essa, told The Witness that they often do such surgeries but it was the first time in South Africa that the surgery had been performed on such a young child. There are only three reports of this surgery being done in the world.

“There were difficulties considering the age of the child as his structure is very small and that adds a high risk of damaging the nerve which could have resulted in facial disability,” said Essa.

He said going into surgery he and his entire team were extremely nervous as it was a young child and the surgery is complex. The operation took about three hours.

“Throughout the surgery we had to think about the child’s parents sitting in the waiting room hoping and praying that the surgery is a success and everything goes well.

“We had to put ourselves in their shoes and think about the young boy’s future. There was no room for mistakes because that would have resulted in half his face being paralysed,” said Essa.

'There is only so much we as doctors can do'

He added that before going into surgery he and his medical team, which comprised of a paediatric surgeon, a pathologist, an oncologist, an otologist and other medical staffers, all said a prayer.

“We all said a little prayer because there is only so much we as doctors can do, the rest is out of our hands,” said Essa.

Essa said the surgery went well and the tumour was successfully removed.

This surgery required a special nerve monitor which was needed to preserve the nerves and ensure there was no nerve damage intra-operatively. The machine had to be transported from Durban to Mediclinic in Pietermaritzburg and medical aid did not cover the costs. Essa said the money was raised by Mediclinic with a medical company called Vision Medical.

The child was in critical care overnight on Saturday and was transferred out of high care to the paediatric unit on Monday morning, and Essa said the boy by then was already running around and eating well.

He also urged people to consult their doctors to get medical help.

“Pietermaritzburg has facilities and specialised medical specialists to help. Initially the mother of the boy was sceptical about this surgery but had we not performed it, come six or 12 months down the line we would have not been able to assist the child,” said Essa.

He thanked the medical support team who came together to ensure the success of the operation.

Read more on:    mediclinic  |  pietermaritzburg  |  health

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