The British surgeons training Ukrainian doctors to treat war injuries via Zoom

Co-Founder David Nott and Former Consultant Surgeon at St George’s Hospital Henry Marsh joined forces to deliver a 12-hour surgical training course to over 570 healthcare professionals on Saturday 5th March.
Co-Founder David Nott (right) and former consultant surgeon at St George’s Hospital, Henry Marsh (left), at the training session. Credit: AP

A team of British surgeons are helping hundreds of Ukrainian medics to save lives on the frontline against the Russian invaders by giving war surgery training via video link.

Surgeon David Nott and former consultant surgeon, Henry Marsh, gave a 12-hour virtual training session to more than 570 doctors working in Ukraine last week, teaching them to deal with injuries that until two weeks ago they would rarely have treated, such as bullet wounds and blast injuries.

While the doctors in Ukraine have their own areas of expertise, they have not been trained in trauma surgery and are now being confronted with complex war injuries that they are having to treat with limited resources and often without electricity or water after the Russians targeted the infrastructure, leaving surgeons to operate in the dark.

Surgeons in Ukraine treat a patient with a bad leg would in the dark. Credit: David Nott Foundation

Video taken by Ukrainian surgeons and shared with the David Nott foundation shows doctors operating on a patient with a badly injured leg by torchlight after Russian bombs knocked the power out.

The training sessions aim to equip medics with knowledge of everything from how to create make-shift pelvic binders to knowing when to operate without a CT scanner.

Dr Nott and his team are now condensing last weekend's marathon training session - which itself had been reduced from the usual five-day surgical training course the foundation offers - into a three-hour recording in order for it to be distributed to those working in the war zone in Ukraine.

Medics in a hospital in Mariupol. Credit: AP

The David Nott Foundation was established to teach doctors around the world how to provide surgical care for patients in dangerous and difficult circumstances.

David Nott OBE FRCS, Consultant Surgeon at St Mary’s Hospital, who specialises in vascular and trauma surgery and who co-founded the David Nott Foundation, is no stranger to saving lives in war zones having worked with Syrian doctors for many years during the height of the conflict there.

Dubbed the "Indiana Jones of Medicine" by the tabloids, Dr Nott gave Syrian doctors lessons in emergency surgery in a basement in a Turkish hospital. The Syrian medics would then head back to the war zone equipped with their new life-saving skills.

The vascular surgeon also spent five weeks working in a Syrian hospital and received a Pride of Britain award in 2016 for his 23 years of voluntary work.

Dr Nott said: “At the frontline of conflict zones are medical teams working tirelessly in often under-resourced and ill-equipped hospitals. Many have never experienced traumatic war injuries.

The aftermath of the bombing at a hospital in Mariupol Credit: Sergei Orlov

"When the crisis unfolded in Ukraine, we knew we had to spring into action and condense my 25 years of war surgery experience on the frontline into a 12-hour course for those in need.”Former Consultant Surgeon and pioneer of surgical advances in Ukraine, Henry Marsh, led the neurosurgery session of the course. He said: “I hope and pray that my Ukrainian friends and colleagues will not need to apply all that they learn from the David Nott Foundation webinar."But we must do what we can to prepare them for the possible horrors ahead as Russia continues with its evil and murderous invasion.”

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