Help for hundreds of hernia sufferers in Africa

editorial image

Medical staff from Northampton are giving up their own holiday to fix the hernias of more than 200 people in 10 days in west Africa.

Northampton General Hospital and Three Shires Hospital staff are going to Ghana to operate on farmers and housewives whose physical lives result in massive hernias that native doctors cannot treat.

Sue Johnson, a surgical care practitioner at NGH who volunteered for an Operation Hernia trip last year, said: “They have hernias 50 times bigger than you see here, they get bigger and bigger because there’s no early treatment.There is no proper medical treatment for these people so we have to do what we can.

“They re-use surgical kit and sometimes they don’t even have proper lighting. The power was so erratic last time we had to use headtorches when the generators failed,” she added.

The other staff making the trip in April are operating department practitioners Nichola Goodwin and Jodi Baker, from Three Shires and NGH respectively, and registrar Chris Mann.

They hope to match the 280 operations performed in 10 working days in 2011, achieved by the Operation Hernia team working from dusk until dawn in a makeshift ‘operating theatre’, which is actually a community centre.

Nichola said: “We are so lucky to get great training here so it is a privilege to be able to give something back. We also like a challenge.”

The team have organised a masquerade ball on February 22, funds from which will help finance their mission, at The Picturedrome pub in Kettering Road. Tickets are still available from The Picturedrome.

A hernia happens when there is a weakness in the abdomen which causes the insides to come out and can be dangerous - and potentially fatal - if left untreated.

Hernias are very common in this part of Ghana, possibly due to genetic predisposition as well as the hard manual labour of farm work.