By David Ferguson
A seven-strong team of British medical specialists is one of the groups of foreign experts helping the Sichuan earthquake relief efforts. The team is led by Dr Tony Redmond, Professor of International Emergency Medicine at Manchester University, and one of the world's leading experts in medical aid to disaster areas.
From left to right: Zhao Cong, Director of Chengdu No. 2 People's Hospital, Yang Jiechi, Chinese Foreign Minister, Dr. Tony Redmond, leader of the British medical team and Professor of International Emergency Medicine at Manchester University. Photo by Wang Pei, Director of General Office, Chengdu No. 2 People's Hospital.
The team was put together at very short notice by the UK Government's Department of International Development, working through the RedR charity organization, which specializes in sourcing expert help for disaster relief. Dr Redmond was contacted by RedR last Thursday, and within a day the team was ready and on its way to China. They flew overnight Friday, courtesy of Virgin Airways, and by Saturday they were already operational in the Central Hospital of Mianyang. Their stay is being hosted by the Sichuan authorities and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The other members of the highly-qualified group are also consultants and experts in limb reconstruction, and all are specialists in their individual fields. They are: Plastic Surgeon Waseem Saeed, Consultant in Trauma, Toby Branfoot, Orthopedic Surgeon, Asad Syed, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Nurse Consultant Heather McClelland, Amjid Mohammed, also an expert in Emergency Medicine, and Epidemiologist Lucy Reynolds. Several members of the team previously helped in the aftermath of the Pakistan earthquake, and presented their findings at the International Disaster Conference in Pakistan.
From right to left: Dr. Tony Redmond, Waseem Saeed, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Leeds General Infirmary, Sr Heather McClelland, Nurse Consultant in Emergency Care, Calderdale Hospitals, Mr Toby Branfoot, Consultant Trauma Surgeon, Leeds General Infirmary, Mr. Amjid Mohammed, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Calderdale Hospitals, Yang Jiechi. Photo by Wang Pei.
The trip has not been without incident. On Sunday afternoon the team was in the operating theater on the 10th floor of the Mianyang hospital when the major aftershock struck. Dr Redmond described what happened:
"I have experienced aftershocks before, but this was one of the biggest. The floor swayed, then the frames of the windows began to vibrate so quickly that they became blurred. The theater lamps were swinging to and fro, and our instruments started to rattle in their trays."