Ealing Hospital surgeon Sala Abdalla is back from her fourth overseas trip to West Africa which has helped people who can’t afford to have life changing and saving surgical procedures.
Ms Abdalla, who works at London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust Ealing Hospital, came to the UK as a ten-year-old refugee from Sudan and is the founder of charity Operation International UK (OIUK).
She headed a team of surgeons, nurses and anaesthetists in Ghana where working alongside Ghanaian medics at Holy Family Hospital, performed 135 procedures including hernia repairs, emergency surgery and a life changing stoma reversal on a 11-year-old boy.
The charity is also funding a children’s playground outside the hospital’s paediatric unit which will be named in memory of paediatric anaesthetist Craig Mastracci who volunteered with the charity. OIUK is also donating a CPAP machine which delivers oxygen to the lungs of patients struggling to breath along with an intravenous fluid warmer.
A previous visit saw 500 people waiting outside a rural hospital for the team’s arrival including one woman who had travelled eight hours and was sleeping in the hospital grounds.
Commenting on a previous visit, Ms Abdalla said: “We only had one week of surgeries, so triaged as many patients as possible and carried out close to 150 operations in five days. It does make you reflect on how much more efficient we could be with both our resources and time in the NHS. We take so much for granted but when you have less to work with you become far more focused and resourceful.”
Ms Abdalla chose to become a doctor following what happened to her father in Sudan who passed away from a heart condition after being driven to a succession of hospitals where he was told there wasn’t a suitable clinician or equipment available until it was too late.
She said: “It was a tragic and a completely unnecessary death which is played out in many parts of the world because basic healthcare isn’t readily available to many people. It is something I have felt passionate about since I was a child and my reason for becoming a doctor.”