Navy surgeon, nurse team up in life-changing surgery
13 June 2012
A Royal Australian Navy Reserve surgeon and nurse have participated in life-changing surgery for an eight month-old Indonesian boy as part of Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12).
Maxillofacial surgeon Lieutenant Commander John McHugh performed the surgery in the Indonesian city of Manado in North Sulawesi to share his expertise and techniques in facial reconstruction with Indonesian neurosurgeons and a US Navy plastic surgeon.
Navy nurse Lieutenant Christina Trent assisted in the operation for the young boy who had a dangerous medical condition where part of his brain lining was protruding through a hole in his skull between his eyes.
The child was at risk of contracting meningitis if left untreated and the condition meant his eyes would also be pushed further apart as he grew, reducing his vision and worsening his facial deformity.
Lieutenant Commander McHugh said the infant has received neurosurgery and maxillofacial surgery from a combined Indonesian-Pacific Partnership 2012 medical team and should now be able to attend school in coming years with his twin brother.
“To stop the condition getting worse we decided timely intervention was needed,” LCDR McHugh said.
“So we shared and combined techniques to achieve the best possible outcome for the patient.
“The hole was small enough that we avoided using a bone fragment or a metal plate to fill it, thus reducing the risk of infection.
“This is very important as the child lives in a distant area of the island, far away from medical help.
“With the pressure on the hole in the skull removed, the bone should grow and fill the gap over time.”
The incredible surgery is just one example of the lives changed by Pacific Partnership.
This year, PP12 will deliver medical, dental, veterinary and engineering aid to Indonesia (North Sulawesi), Philippines (Samar), Vietnam (Vinh) and Cambodia (Sihanoukville).
Hundreds of people are expected to receive surgery for conditions as wide ranging as cleft palates, cataract removal, burn scarring reduction and club foot correction.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Ash Power, said Pacific Partnership is an annual US-sponsored humanitarian civic assistance exercise aimed at strengthening international relationships with partner and host nations in Asia and Oceania.
“Forty-one ADF personnel are currently assigned to Pacific Partnership 2012 and are doing extremely valuable work in assisting the Pacific Partnership goal of delivering a range of community aid projects.
“Australia has committed ADF personnel to the Pacific Partnership operations every year since its inception in 2006 as part of Australia’s contribution to peace, stability and humanitarian relief efforts in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Media contact: Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999