May 15, 2014

Nepali Child Receives 5000th Surgery


Nishant, a two-year-old Nepali child, has become the 5000th
patient to receive free, life-transforming surgery provided by Open Heart
International (OHI) volunteers.

Nishant severely burnt his right leg when he was six months old
after falling onto the cooking fire in his home. Since he had never walked
prior to the accident, his family feared he would never walk at all.

In April, Nishant’s mother, Harimaya, heard that OHI volunteers
offered free burn contracture surgery at the Scheer Memorial Hospital in Banepa
near Kathmandu. 

It took Harimaya and Nishant three days to travel the 500 km
from their home in Kailali to the hospital, where Dr. David Pennington and his medical
team operated on the boy’s right leg. Three days later the toddler was walking
with assistance.

“To see Nishant—aka `Mr. 5000’ to the OHI team—running around
for the first time in his life brought tears to the eyes of his mother and the
team members,” said John Sanburg, OHI’s Nepal Project coordinator. “This was my
final visit after 20 years of mission trips to Nepal, so to have the 5000th OHI
patient on this trip will be a special memory.”

Burns are the second most common injury in rural Nepal, accounting
for 5 per cent of all disabilities. Many Nepali women and children are burned
at home on their cooking fire, which is traditionally situated on the floor at
the center of the household. Government hospital networks cannot cope with the
demand for surgery resulting from the burns. Many villages have no access to
emergency medical facilities, with some families living up to a three-day walk
from the nearest road.

The OHI team will return to Nepal next year. They may operate on
Nishant’s ankle if he and his mother are able to make the journey back to

Nishant is one of the thousands of patients who have benefited
from the services of OHI since Sydney Adventist Hospital in Australia launched
the initiative in 1986.

Today, OHI provides free cardiac, orthopedic, ophthalmic,
women’s health and burns surgery in 13 developing countries across the world,
including Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, and Rwanda.

than 2000 volunteers have donated their time, skills, expertise, and financial
support, to enable others to live longer and have better quality lives.