César Ramírez, a surgeon from Malaga, recently operated on around 50 adults in Sierra Leone in just five days, as part of the Cirujanos en Acción group's 'Bisturí Solidario' (Solidarity Scalpel) campaign. The slogan of the campaign is: The formula for solidarity is work + science + humanism to achieve a more just world.
The temperature was around 40ºC and the high humidity made the heat even more unbearable for the ten volunteers who travelled to Sierra Leone from different parts of Spain. Two were from Malaga: César Ramírez, the team coordinator, and Paco Gómez.
They have already taken part in seven campaigns together and have operated on more than 1,000 people, transporte 2,000 kilos of medical and surgical material and trained dozens of professionals in countries where not everyone can access up-to-date medical training.
The Sierra Leone mission took place from 17 to 22 June. The team of doctors comprised César Ramírez, Teresa Butrón, Guadalupe Moreno, Hermelinda Pardella (surgeons); José Miguel Morán (pediatric surgeon); anaesthetists Beatriz Fort, Sandra Casares, Salvatore Catania and nurses Paco Gómez and Silvestra Barrena.
On the first day they saw 300 patients in three rooms set up for triage, two for adults and one for children. In the following days they performed surgery on 100 adults and 30 children.
In all, they carried out 160 surgical procedures, working marathon days of up to 16 hours in extreme temperatures and in tremendously difficult conditions. The operations included advanced pathologies of the abdominal wall and inguinal hernias, in some cases measuring half a metre and weighing more than five kilos. These were extremely complex operations but they were successful and carried out with no complications.
"For a more just world it is essential for people to help others," says Dr Ramírez.
Hernias are problems which affect men and women equally, and prevent them doing anything which requires physical effort. In Sierra Leone this problem can result in families ending up in the most extreme poverty, because in this country work is the only way to bring money into a household.
This is a country where poverty and health mark the lives of the population, and life expectacy is only 55 years. It is a country desolated by the consequences of ten years of civil war (1991-2001), and the Ebola epidemic between 2014 and 2016.
This is just one of the projects which will benefit from the fundraising dinner which is to be held on Saturday 13 July at the Colegio de Médicos in Malaga, as all the money raised will be used for missions coordinated by Dr Ramírez in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Uganda. In Uganda, the works are now being completed on the surgical pavilion which Bisturí Solidario is building in Kamatur.