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British Surgeon Performs Amputation By SMS

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British surgeon performs amputation on teenager using instructions sent to him by text message.

A British surgeon successfully amputated the arm of a wounded teenager in Congo with the help of instructions sent to his mobile phone by text.

Mr David Nott, a consultant vascular surgeon at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London, had been doing voluntary work for Medicins Sans Frontieres, when he was faced with carrying out the unfamiliar operation last October.

surgeon amputates boy using instructions sent by text message British Surgeon Performs Amputation By SMS

To help assist in the risky procedure, Mr Nott, an experienced surgeon who treated Tony Blair after a health scare in 2003, called his surgical colleague Meirion Thomas. Unfortunately Professor Thomas on holiday in the Azores and was unreachable by regular phone or email. In a desperate effort, Mr Nott sent a text message. Mr. Nott said:

“The boy had an 80 per cent chance of dying and the potential for things to go wrong was enormous…
“We only had one pint of blood, one scalpel, one pair of forceps and I wasn’t sure if the anesthetic was strong enough…
“I just knew that Meirion had done this operation before and just knew that he would be there to help me, and he was…
“I’ve been in some scrapes and this, I can tell you, was right up there.
“God works in mysterious ways, and this time he was working via text message.”

Professor Thomas, who is a consultant at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, said he had been very happy to help out and quickly replied with two detailed messages on how to safely perform the amputation – followed with the words ‘Easy!’ and ‘Good luck’.

The 16-year-old boy had been bitten by a hippo near his home in Rutshuru, northern Congo. The boy had undergone surgery to amputate the arm below the shoulder, but the remaining section had become severely infected.

“He had only a few days to live,” Mr Nott told reporters.

“This involved doing a forequarter amputation, which basically means you remove the whole of the shoulder and the scapula, a large bone on the back. It would have been a very risky operation even in the UK.” He said.

Professor Thomas praised Mr. Nott’s quick thinking and surgical skills:

“This is a tribute to David’s experience as a surgeon..
“Once you get to the level he has reached it’s just a matter of giving him a few tips.”

Mr. Nott said the procedure was the most dangerous and precarious he had undertaken. Nevertheless, the operation a success and the 16-year-old patient from the Democratic Republic of Congo made a good recovery.

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