Suzanne Caragianis recently had another successful visit to Bhutan. On this trip during May to June 2015, Suzanne was assisted by an extended team from Interplast Australia and New Zealand.

In order to extend and build our capacity to help and treat more patients in Bhutan, we approached Interplast to assist. Interplast Australia and New Zealand is a large NGO who provide volunteer medical teams to countries in the South East Asia Region. They are co-owned by Rotary Australia and by The Royal Australian College of Surgeons. Their focus is on Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery including hand surgery and burns. This necessitates having Allied Health assistance and hand therapy so we thought it was a good partnership.

SA Hand Therapy via Southern Adelaide Health Institute – Bhutan Fund, continue to fundraise to buy equipment for Bhutan from donations, selling coffee/tea and cards. We are soon to sell gorgeous framed photographs of Bhutan donated by Bhutan’s top professional photographer Yeshi Dorji. Prior to the trip we sent six boxes of donated therapy equipment and splint supplies, and we will continue to send equipment to support our hand therapy centres.

The team was our largest ever and consisted of 3 surgeons; Dr Philip Griffin (Team Leader), Dr Tim Proudman and Dr Michael Hayes. Also joining the team were Scott Fortey (Anaesthetist) and Jo Oxbrow (OR Nurse), who have had extensive overseas experience and proved invaluable. Megan Fitzgerald, and Suzanne were the hand therapists teaching the local physiotherapists and technicians within the two Hand Therapy Centres they established in Thimphu and Mongar.

Our patient, the farmer from Southern Bhutan who we sponsored to go to Coimbatore and undergo nerve grafts and micro-surgery with Dr Raja Sabapathy last March, came back for review and has much better movement and sensation which allows him to work back on the farm.

Dr Hayes undertook the first finger joint replacement ever done in Bhutan, on a young girl with an electrical burn. The joint replacement was kindly donated by LMT. She started moving her finger better within 5 days and I’m sure will have much better hand use.

There were so many complex hand injuries which included severe burns and contractures, elbow fractures and nerve injuries. The team operated on over 50 patients and Megan and I treated over 200 patients along with our physiotherapy colleagues in the 2 ½ weeks we were there.

Without the team of dedicated Doctors and Therapists most of the patients would not have had the necessary surgeries which will improve their quality of life and independence, due to the limitations of the Bhutanese Health system.

One of the highlights at the end of the trip was to give the hearing aids kindly donated by Hearing Life, to the Deaf School in Paro.

We thank you for your donations and support, every cent goes to Bhutan and helps many in need.

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