AT first light, we embarked on our cross-continental mission, loaded down with supplies to bring health care to Pakistan’s poorest children.
On Wednesday, anaesthetist Dr Zahid Rafique, theatre sister Annette Middleton and journalist Allison Coggan set off from East Yorkshire to Gujrat ahead of the arrival of plastic surgeons Muhammed Riaz and Christoph Theopold at the weekend.
Cases packed with sutures, sterile gloves and life-saving equipment including defibrillators, we flew from Manchester Airport to Dubai before catching a connecting flight to Salikot, arriving in Pakistan almost 24 hour after they set off.
Arriving in the early hours of Thursday morning, the Opsa Spring 2017 Mission “outriders” headed straight to the hospital in Gujrat, their home for the next week.
Annette will be holding meetings with officials in charge of supplies to see what is required for the next trip later this year while Dr Rafique will attend a conference on women’s health in pregnancy in Lahore at the weekend. Allison will blog from the hospital, interviewing staff, patients and supporters to shine a spotlight on the work of the charity.
Annette said: “There is a lot to sort out in the first few days ahead of surgery beginning. We’ll see patients in clinics, have meeting about supplies and work with the staff before surgery begins in earnest on Sunday.
“And then it’s long days in theatre to ensure we see as many patients as possible during each trip.”
Nursing staff will also be trained in the use of the defibrillators so they can continue to save lives of patients long after the Opsa tea have returned to the UK.
On Sunday night, Mr Riaz and Mr Theopold will arrive and begin operating on children whose families have travelled from all over the Punjab for help.
Operating for 15 hours every day, they expect to see scores of children during the week-long mission.