The Probus (UK) Team 20-27 SEPTEMBER 2008

The Probus Surgical Centre in the UK, is a primary care based service, performing a variety of surgical procedures, including abdominal wall hernia repair. All procedures are performed using only local anaesthesia.


Hernia surgery is a particular interest of the team at Probus and my initial contact with the project was through Professor Andrew Kingsnorth, who was presenting his early experiences in Ghana at an international meeting. I quickly decided that I would like the opportunity to be involved with such an interesting, exciting and worthwhile project. Andrew and Chris Oppong arranged for our visit to take place in September. This allowed us eight months to prepare for our journey.

At this point we began to search for local sponsors to help provide the materials and funding for the trip. In the subsequent months we were helped by many generous individual donors and by the kind support of several retail and pharmaceutical companies. Donations included meshes from Covidien, sutures from Ethicon, gowns and drapes from 3M. By the time of the trip we had secured supplies for all of our disposable needs.

The team consisted of two surgeons, ( John Tisdale and Nick Barwell), one surgeon in training, (Mehdi Masood), two theatre nurses and a medical student. On arrival in Takoradi we were housed at a reasonably comfortable government villa, which was to be our base for the week. During our time at the villa we were exceptionally well looked after by the staff, Lillian, Grace, Kate and Barbara. We were most grateful for their care and attention and send them our thanks and best wishes.

We divided into two teams and used the theatres at the Takoradi hernia unit and the Ghana Ports Authority hospital. As described in previous reports the units are fairly basic by European standards but adequate. Curved artery forceps are in short supply and dissecting scissors blunt but the kit is otherwise satisfactory. The nursing and support staff at both units are very welcoming and helpful. Our thanks to both teams for their support.

Forty three procedures were performed on forty one patients. Most were moderately large indirect inguinal hernias, two recurrent. A small number of ventral hernias were included. Two children were operated on under GA; all other cases were performed under LA. We were also called upon to assist at Caesarean sections and to give advice about other medical and surgical problems.

The social programme, organised by Brian Dixon included visits to local beaches, villages, schools, a rubber plantation, national park, crocodile sanctuary, El-mina castle and much more besides. We were able to distribute gifts of toys and clothing in the villages we visited.

At the conclusion of our stay we reflected on our experiences both as a team and from our personal perspectives. Everyone involved felt that the trip had been a great success and that we had each achieved our personal goals. Success can be measured in many ways but I think the fact that all members of the group have expressed a deep desire to return as soon as possible speaks volumes in itself.

The success of our trip owes a great deal to the hard work, enthusiasm and teamwork of the individuals involved and I offer them my sincere thanks. However without good local organisation in Ghana, Operation Hernia could not flourish. Thanks to our hosts at the hospitals, the medical director, Linda, Bernard Boateng and their teams

Special thanks must also go to Mr Brian Dixon whose efforts were quite remarkable. No person could have done more to ensure the success of the trip and the comfort and enjoyment of the group. Operation Hernia is extremely fortunate to have someone with Brian s commitment and energy working for them. We look forward to returning in the near future to renew our acquaintance with Brian and our many friends in Ghana.

Dr John Tisdale