NNUH consultant and team performs life changing surgeries to children in India

One of our Consultant Spinal Surgeons has recently returned from India where he performed corrective surgery on children with complex scoliosis.

Mr Girish Swamy was joined by retired NNUH Consultant Spinal Surgeon Mr Bob Crawford, former President of the British Scoliosis Society, and two other surgeons from Italy and Palestine. They were invited by Operation Straight Spine Trust, a charity which funds surgical and medical care for underprivileged children with musculoskeletal diseases in India. They were also joined by Joanne Siliprandi, Surgical Care Practitioner in Spinal Surgery at NNUH and Michael Farrow, Orthopaedic Department Practitioner at Spire hospital in Norwich.

Scoliosis is a condition where the spine twists and curves. Without corrective surgery patients can live in severe pain, disability and can suffer from recurrent chest infections and heart problems. It also leads to severe psychological and social distress.

The team spent a week in Kolkata and operated on 11 children aged between two and 18, from India, Nepal and Bangladesh. They performed growth rod insertion in very young children and more definitive fixations in older patients to correct and straighten the spine. Each operation can take more than eight hours and are extremely complex because the work is carried out so close to the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. The operations were observed by over 25 other surgeons from the three countries and nursing staff from Kolkata were also given specialist training in managing these complex patients. On the last day, the team lectured at the Kolkata Spine Deformity Conference at the Jagannath Gupta Institute of Medical Sciences and Hospital (JIMSH).

Mr Girish Swamy said: “Scoliosis is a condition which can be treated, but with highly specialised care and surgery. Without an operation, patients struggle with day-to-day life and can become severely disabled, so it really is life changing. Without the charity funding, these underprivileged children wouldn’t have been able to have these complex and expensive surgeries. All the operations were successful, and the local team were very impressed and grateful for our teaching too and would like us to go back next year. My colleagues and the wider spinal team at NNUH are excited and would love to help again.”

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