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Everything we needed to act quickly
by Dr. Bip Nandi

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Dr Bip Nandi is the surgeon at the Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi, where Kids Operating Room installed a paediatric operating room. Here Dr Nandi tells the story of the night 3-year-old Tamandani arrived at the hospital unable to breathe.

"An object in the airways is a real surgical emergency. I got the call at about 10pm. I was told that Tamandani had momentarily stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated. The intern asked me if they should get a chest X-Ray, there clearly was no time.

I asked them to pick Tamandani up and carry her straight into the operating room, put her on oxygen and find an anaesthetist. Staff got out the equipment that KIDS OR supplied only a couple of months back.

It took me ten minutes to drive into the hospital, I didn’t change but kicked off my sandals and walked straight into theatre. This is the only time I ever do this.

A three year old's wind pipe is less than the diameter of my little finger. If a maize kernel gets stuck, there is not much space to breathe around. Pinch your nostrils and purse your lips together with a small gap, you will see it’s possible to breathe but it’s hard work.

The irritation causing you to repeatedly, forcefully cough makes it harder. After a while you are too tired to cough, then too tired to breathe, then you start gasping, and finally you give up.

"Within an hour of taking Tamanandi from her parent's arms, we returned her, sleepy from the anaesthetic but clearly breathing normally. It was such a joy to behold."

Dr. Bip Nandi

I can't imagine how distressing this must be for a parent to see. Until recently, we had to tell parents that we were sorry but we couldn't operate because we didn't have the equipment, and send them on a 4-hour ambulance journey to the only hospital in the country that did.

Some would make it, some would not. Now instead of this terrifying four-hour journey, we can offer families hope and a straightforward procedure, thanks to Kids Operating Room.

Within an hour of taking Tamanandi from her parent's arms, we returned her, sleepy from the anaesthetic but clearly breathing normally. It was such a joy to behold."

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