Text Messages Guide Amputation In Congo A doctor in the Democratic Republic of Congo performs a dangerous operation with the aid of instructions from a colleague on vacation in the Azores.
NPR logo

Text Messages Guide Amputation In Congo

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/97905068/97905034" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Text Messages Guide Amputation In Congo

Text Messages Guide Amputation In Congo

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/97905068/97905034" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Prognosis was bad for a wounded teenager in Congo. The 16-year-old, identified in press reports only as Jay, was apparently caught by gunfire in Congo's civil war. His left arm had to be amputated just below the shoulder to save his life but an infection flared.

Dr. David Nott, a vascular surgeon at London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was working in Congo for Doctors Without Borders. Dr. Nott has been one of Tony Blair's doctors. He quickly determined that Jay needed what's called a four-quarter amputation to remove his infected shoulder. The field hospital which he was working had just one pint of blood and limited supplies. Dr. Nott had never before performed that kind of amputation.

He tried to get hold of one of his London colleagues, Dr. Meirion Thomas, who, as it happens, was vacationing in the Azores. Phone and email didn't work, but Dr. Nott did get a text message through. Dr. Thomas sent back two messages detailing the procedure which closed by saying: easy, good luck.

Dr. Nott performed the operation successfully, and the boy is recovering. Dr. Nott told the UK's Mail Online, God works in mysterious ways, and this time he was working via text message.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.