Scots charity to double life-saving surgery for world's poorest children

Dundee-based KidsOR provides medical equipment to hospitals in developing countries - and hopes to help 100,000 more children.

A Scottish charity that has helped 100,000 children receive life-saving surgery in some of the world’s poorest areas has launched a campaign to double the number of youngsters it helps.

Kids Operating Room (KidsOR), founded by Garreth and Nicola Wood, provides state-of-the-art medical equipment to hospitals in countries where there’s currently no access to safe surgery for children.

Consignments of supplies are shipped from the charity’s depot in Dundee to low and middle-income countries.

“We’ve built 72 operating rooms across 24 countries but we’ve just scratched the surface,” said Garreth Wood.

“There are still countries in Africa that don’t have a paediatric surgeon that we’re training surgeons to work in those countries.

“Whole areas of South East Asia that require investment in surgery, India, Pakistan and also in Latin America, so our mission is long.”

In the last five years, the equipment shipped from Scotland has been used to operate on 100,000 children.

Two-year-old Mohammed from the Ivory Coast is one of them.

The toddler developed a sharp pain in his abdomen. His mother rushed him to the hospital, where she was told that Mohammed couldn’t be treated.

With his condition worsening by the hour, Mohammed was taken to CHU Treichville, a larger district hospital with a dedicated paediatric facility, installed by KidsOR. 

The charity hopes to help an additional 100,000 with its new campaign

Here Mohammed underwent life-saving surgery, after being diagnosed with a urethral blockage.

Without this dedicated Kids Operating Room facility, Mohammed’s story would have taken a hugely different turn. He now lives a happy and normal childhood, back at home with his family.

His mum said: “I’m so grateful for the operation and excellent care Mohammed received.

“Like every parent, I just want to see him living a happy, normal life.”

The charity has now launched its No Room to Operate appeal to help the next 100,000 children in need of care.

Garreth Wood said: “We live in a country where it’s taken for granted that our children will receive the life-saving surgery they need.

“This should be the case for every child, no matter where they live.

“It’s astounding that this glaring gap in global health has never been addressed and we hope by launching No Room to Operate, we can raise awareness of this growing need as well as raise crucial funds to tackle it.”

Professor Emmanuel Makasa, a KidsOR paediatric surgeon from Lusaka, Zambia, visited Scotland to launch the appeal said.

He said: “Access to surgery has been a life-changing moment for many of these children.

“When you operate on a child, the impact lasts a full lifetime.

“It is currently one of the largest worldwide gaps in children’s health as well as the most underfunded.”

Hazel Sonkwe, a consultant anaesthesiologist in Zambia added: “We are able to work on children as tiny as a few hours old and very complex surgeries.

“Doing our work now, you have the feeling of ‘I’ve done what’s best that I could do’.

“Potentially the outcomes are going to be good and our mobility and mortality outcomes have really improved quite a lot, so it’s been a game changer.”

KidsOR co-founder Nicola Wood said: “It’s time to realise how deadly a lack of access to surgery is for children across the globe.

“The survey results show the will is there from the public and, collectively, we can fix this.

“Safe and timely surgery not only saves children’s lives but allows them to return to education, lead lives free from pain and reclaim their childhoods.”

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