Bethany was only one-year-old when she was badly burned on her right hip and leg. As her body grew over the next two years, her burns scarring had fused her hip to her chest.
Interplast first met Bethany when she was three years old, during a surgical training visit to Sandaun Provincial Hospital in Vanimo late last year.
Vanimo is on the remote north-west coast of Papua New Guinea and Interplast was the first plastic and reconstructive surgical team to visit the hospital, as recalled by local staff.
Interplast volunteer plastic surgeon, Professor Mark Ashton, worked alongside local surgeons, Dr Akule Dunlap and Dr Stanley Bita, teaching them best-practice surgical techniques to release Bethany’s burns contracture.
“The operation took under an hour,” he said.
“We took some skin from Bethany’s left hip and transferred it across, and we were able to straighten her leg.
“For the first time, she will be able to walk and when she’s older, she can run.”
Professor Ashton said that without the operation, her condition would have become worse.
“Her body would have continued to grow and her hip would slowly and progressively become more disfigured and she would end up with a partial or full dislocation of her hip, leaving it so deformed that it would be unusable,” he said.
Dr Dunlap, Dr Bita and other local surgeons benefit from the surgical training provided from Interplast, so they can not only continue to deliver safe and effective surgery when Interplast is not there, but they can pass on their knowledge to future surgeons in their communities.
40 minutes in an operating theatre has transformed Bethany’s life and she is ready to learn how to walk.
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