Des­per­ate for aid

Friday - - Society -

Waseem’s ex­pe­ri­ence in dis­as­ter ar­eas left him de­ter­mined to re­cruit more skilled medics to help deal with the huge need for treat­ment in the earth­quake-af­fected re­gion. He was the only re­con­struc­tive sur­geon for miles, so when he had to re­turn to his post in the UK, he was des­per­ate to ar­range for aid in his ab­sence.

He con­tacted the Bri­tish As­so­ci­a­tion of Plas­tic Sur­geons to set up a rota of sur­gi­cal teams to come to Abbottabad over the next three months when the need was most crit­i­cal.

Waseem’s col­league Am­jad made a sec­ond trip to Pak­istan, this time with­Waseem’s psy­chi­a­trist wife Dr Saika Rahuja, to de­liver aid to parts of the moun­tains that hadn’t yet been reached. Dr Rahuja also helped peo­ple who were suf­fer­ing from post-trau­matic stress.

Waseem has of­fered his ex­per­tise all over the world. When a mas­sive earth­quake struck China in 2008, he joined a team put to­gether by the char­ity UK-Med and rushed off to help.

The fol­low­ing year he helped in Padang, the cap­i­tal ofWest Su­ma­tra in In­done­sia, af­ter another huge quake struck the coun­try, killing more than 1,000 peo­ple. He re­mem­bers see­ing a 17-year-old girl who suf­fered a se­ri­ous gash on her heel while flee­ing a col­laps­ing build­ing.

“It was an open wound and gan­grene had set in,” he says. “But luck­ily we got to her in time and were able to save her foot.

“I also treated a lit­tle girl with a nasty fa­cial in­jury. Hope­fully there shouldn’t be too much of a scar,’’ he says.

Waseem cred­its his fa­ther’s friend for in­ad­ver­tently help­ing him choose this pro­fes­sion. Waseem’s fa­ther Dr Riaz Saeed, a gen­eral prac­ti­tioner, had moved from Pak­istan to the UK in the Six­ties. As a school­boy grow­ing up in Manch­ester along with three brothers (now all doc­tors), Waseem re­mem­bers lis­ten­ing to his fa­ther’s friend, a sur­geon, talk about the re­con­struc­tive work he had done on a pa­tient’s twisted leg; how he re­built soft tis­sue, mus­cle and ten­dons to sup­port the bone and give the child a chance of learn­ing to walk.

“That in­spired me,’’ saysWaseem, who also vis­its Mus­cat Pri­vate Hos­pi­tal in Oman for a monthly clinic to treat pa­tients re­quir­ing plas­tic surgery due to burns or ac­ci­dents.

De­spite a thriv­ing prac­tice in UK, trav­el­ling to dis­as­ter ar­eas wher­ever in the world they hap­pen is what he says helps him give some­thing back to so­ci­ety.

Af­ter 20 years of sav­ing lives and limbs for vic­tims of ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dents, Waseem feels there is a lot more to be done.

“One day, when I no longer have to sup­port a fam­ily, I’d like to give my life to hu­man­i­tar­ian medicine, be­cause in dis­as­ters like th­ese the need is sim­ply so huge.”

And af­ter be­ing saved from cer­tain am­pu­ta­tion byWaseem, lit­tle Dianne, Danesh and Kul­soom would agree.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.