Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting SB NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
Borough surgeon brings hope to Syrian amputees
11:23am Friday 15th March 2013 in News
A BOROUGH surgeon is continuing to help transform people’s lives by fitting unique artificial limbs made out of drainpipes to those living in war-torn Syria.
Viquar Qurashi, who works in the trauma and orthopaedics department at Russells Hall Hospital, has already fitted 3,000 artificial limbs over the past seven years to amputees in his home country of Pakistan.
But he recently flew out to Reyhanli, close to the Turkish / Syrian border, to mould prosthetic lower limbs and rubber feet for more than 114 men, women and children.
Helped by a team of six technicians from Pakistan, Mr Qurashi set up a makeshift clinic and workshop for ten days to make the limbs, made from melted down plastic drainpipes which are then moulded against a plaster of paris cast of the amputated leg.
Once set - the limbs, which cost just £30 each, are then fitted into place with metal pins and leather straps with the artificial feet formed from recycled rubber.
Mr Qurashi, of Elgar Crescent, Pensnett, said: “The limbs made from drainpipes are not as sophisticated as a western limb but a prosthetic limb costing up to a £1,000 here in Britain will be of little use to someone who doesn’t have the money, technology and tools to maintain it.
“We can make limbs from drainpipe material for £30 and provide them free to those in need.”
The surgeon, who set up his Naya Qadam Trust in 2005 following the South Asia earthquake to provide volunteer overseas Pakistani doctors and help fund the materials, also began training Syrian volunteers in the artificial limb making process, enabling them to carry on the work in the future.
Mr Quarashi, who is supported by his wife Ambreena and daughter Maria, added: “I took ten legs with me in my suitcases and had 100 shipped out and I fitted the first leg to a patient within two days of our arrival.
“We also began training local Syrian boys and girls and I am sure in a few months time they will be competent to do this job on their own.”
During his time in Syria Mr Quarashi’s work was also featured in Turkey’s main newspaper, as well as in a documentary programme for Aljazeera TV.
He is now hoping to help amputees in countries such as Haiti, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Vietnam.