TWO Huddersfield medics will carry out life-saving operations in a war-torn African country.
Surgery assistant John Dolby and surgeon Sudhi Ankarath will next month be among a team operating on people who were maimed during Sierra Leone’s civil war – one of the bloodiest in modern history.
The war, between 1991 and 2002, saw the death of more than 50,000 people and the displacement of a further 2.5m.
Mr Dolby, from Dalton, and Mr Ankarath, from Birkby, will join three other medics in performing hand surgery procedures at Holy Spirit Hospital, Makeni, about 100 miles from the capital, Freetown.
Many of Sierra Leone’s people had limbs forceably removed by rebel militias during the war.
Much of the country’s infrastructure, including its hospitals, were destroyed or abandoned.
In Sierra Leone, which is one of the world’s poorest countries, having functioning hands can be the difference between survival and death.
Sudhi and John’s team – from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield – were picked by Resurge Africa.
The charity organises reconstructive surgery for some of the continent’s hardest hit populations.
The Yorkshire team, including anaesthetist Sameer Bhandari, scrub nurse Mary Anne Pye and plastic surgeon Sanjib Majumder, hope to perform operations on scores of patients in the first two weeks of November.
The group, some of whom carried out relief work in Haiti following last year’s earthquake, will also be bringing an ultrasound machine for the hospital.
For John, who has served with the army and fire service, it was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.
John, 58, said: “I was quite chuffed to be asked.
“Normally it’s just doctors that get asked, but I was the first of my kind to be asked.
“I’ve never been to a third world country before so I’m excited, but a bit nervous.
“Afterwards we will have helped some people who can’t help themselves.
“My army training might be some use. It’s the sort of life I enjoy where you live in a camp and you learn to be on your toes.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I had to take it. In my working life I’ve always helped people and that’s what I want to do here.”
The team is appealing for footballs and sports equipment for children in the village to play with.
To donate call John on 07753 225831.