Arm restored for Christmas
Christmas time for Pooja Lal from the Fiji town of Labasa, has been made much merrier thanks to a Palmerston North surgeon.
For the past three years the 18-year-old high school student had been affected by an unusual condition. Pooja had an extra rib. Called a cervical rib, it dropped down from just below her neck. This extra rib was crimping the nerve to her right arm which progressively she became unable to use.
Crest Hospital surgeon Pravin Kumar came across Pooja while working as part of a team of volunteer surgeons, Friends for Fiji, which has been operating in the island republic for at least the last five years.
‘‘She was a top student, a high achiever, but this caused her to drop out of school,"Pravin says. ‘‘There was no way she could get this sort of operation in Fiji, so I spoke to Crest and they put things together to get her over.’’
This was so a surgical team could remove the rib and restore use to her arm.
‘‘The hope is that she will be able to go back to school.’’
The procedure was carried out on November 20.
‘‘It’s a fiddly operation. The neck is a busy area,’’ Pravin explains.
While Crest Hospital made the operation possible, surgeon Dilip Naik came up from Wellington, the anaesthetist Dr Nigel Waters and senior nurses stayed back on a Friday afternoon to help carry out the procedure. Broadway Radiology didn’t charge for the x-rays, neither did physio Sarah Dickson charge for her services.
Despite still being sore and get- ting used to having an arm that works, Pooja is more than happy that the cause of her impediment has been removed.
‘‘It’s still hurting,’’ she says, but she expects full recovery to take a further month or so.
Pooja went back to Fiji on December 6, equipped with exercises to strengthen her limb, and hopes to be able to start the new school term.
This co-operative surgical effort uncovered a longstanding connection city medicos have with Fiji.
‘‘The three main specialist surgeons at Suva Hospital were all trained at Palmerston North,’’ Pravin reveals.
Eighteen-year-old Pooja Lal from Labasa in Fiji received a special pre-Christmas gift at Palmerston North’s Crest Hospital. The patch on her neck was where the surgical team removed an extra rib.