Norfolk surgeon returns to Nepal to lead team of lifesaving medics after earthquake disaster
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015
A Norfolk surgeon who hails from Nepal is returning to the country of his birth to help badly injured earthquake survivors.
Kamal Aryal, a general surgeon at the James Paget University Hospital (JPH) in Gorleston-on-Sea, is leading a team of four JPH medics flying out tomorrow in a race against time to save lives.
It will be an emotional experience for Mr Aryal whose home village in the Dhading district was devasated by the 7.8 magnitude quake.
Working with anaesthetist Andreas Brodbeck, consultant orthopaedic surgeon Emeka Nnene, and orthopaedic surgeon Mike Flores, the team will spend a fortnight at Kathmandu Model Hospital treating all types of injury and trauma.
While there Mr Aryal, who trained in Nepal's capital, hopes to be reunited with his family, including his parents.
Describing them as 'the lucky ones', Mr Aryal - speaking before the team left - recalled the moment he first heard about the disaster.
'I was on call that weekend,' he said.
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'It was on the radio as I was driving to work. When I arrived at the hospital I did my ward rounds and as soon as I could I tried to contact my parents on their landline. I couldn't get through.'
It was a nervous wait until Mr Aryal received a message from his brother, who lives in Canada, letting him know his mother and father were safe.
'I was still at the hospital when I eventually got through and spoke to my father,' he said.
'He explained what a distressing experience it was and how, when it happened, everyone came out of their homes. My father is 83 years old. He told me he was shaking.'
'My parents are now in Kathmandu and are the lucky ones, they are fine and so is their home.
'We want to do something for those people who are suffering. We are a very experienced surgical team and we can make a real difference basing ourselves in the Kathmandu Model Hospital and making the most of the equipment that is there.'
A week on from the disaster, the extent of people's injuries and their struggle to survive is now becoming apparent.
'When I heard what had happened, I knew I wanted to help if I could,' said anaesthetist Mr Brodbeck, who works closely with Mr Aryal in the operating rooms of the JPH.
'I have some idea of what we're likely to see from previous experience in parts of the world where they do not have the hospital care we have over here. We see difficult things in this hospital too, but the conditions there will be tough. They need our help.'
'We expect injuries of all kinds and patients will be suffering,' added Mr Aryal.
'There are procedures which we can perform which will have a huge impact, such as closure of open wounds and amputations where needed. If the wounds are not dealt with, infection could take hold and people will die.
'There are simply not enough surgeons in Nepal to cope with the numbers of patients who are in desperate need.'
Christine Allen, JPH chief executive, said: 'We are enormously proud of the team and the courage and determination of our staff to help the people of Nepal in their hour of need.
'We hope that our team are able to treat as many people as possible. They go with our best wishes and sincere hopes that in some small way they can help the people of Nepal cope with this terrible tragedy.
'I also want to thank the staff at the JPH who are ensuring that the hospital runs normally while the team are in Nepal.'