In what must surely be the most astonishing use of text messaging,
a surgeon in the Democratic Republic of Congo has carried out a
difficult shoulder amputation using only a scalpel and messages sent
from a fellow surgeon’s mobile phone.
David Knott, 52, a volunteer surgeon working for Médecins sans Frontières (MSF)
in the war-torn country managed to save the life of a 16-year-old boy
reading instructions from text messages sent from a colleague
holidaying in the Azores.
The boy had been bitten by a
hippo and Knott knew that without the surgery the boy would die. The
amputation involved the removal of the collar bone and shoulder blade.
This is a complex operation at best, requiring sterile conditions, out
Knott only had a makeshift operating theatre.
"We only had one pint of blood, one scalpel,
one pair of forceps and I wasn’t sure if the anaesthetic was strong enough",
Knott told the Daily Mail.
Knott is a general surgeon who had never attempted such an operation before, so he contacted Meirion Thomas, a surgeon he knew
had performed the procedure before. However Thomas was on holiday in the Azores.
managed to send a few text messages explaining, step-by-step, how to
carry out the complex surgery, followed up by text messages of
Thankfully, the operation succeeded and the boy recovered sans arm.