When UK-Med responded to the war in Ukraine, plastic surgeon Sarah Tucker knew immediately it was something she wanted to contribute to. Having returned from Ukraine, she is now launching a fundraiser to raise money for vital surgical equipment and supplies.
Sarah developed a fascination for how the human body worked from a young age and set her sights on a career in surgery. Her medical career has taken her to countries such as Pakistan and Nepal, providing care to leprosy patients, burns victims and spinal injury patients, and training fellow surgeons to deal with the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in 2015.
She says: “I really enjoy seeing someone being empowered to function at a level they might never thought possible.
Whether this is an injured patient who thought they would never walk unaided again, or a surgeon who thought they didn’t have the resources and skills to carry out life changing surgery. I just love to see the difference it makes to them.
Now as I do more training, I am aware that this has a more lasting impact on a greater number of people than if I visit a place and do the surgery myself, so I get a lot of pleasure from training local surgeons even though it means I will not be needed once they are ‘flying solo’.”
“Having grown up with a disabled brother, I have a personal insight into the impact of physical impairment and how health care interventions and adaptive environments can transform a life”
With an estimated 1,000 casualties a day, the war is putting immense strain on the Ukrainian healthcare system. Pressure that no health care system in the world could cope with. The surgical programme developed by UK-Med is playing a key part in treating the war wounded.
The need for lifesaving surgery has increased dramatically since the start of the conflict, and the types of procedures being carried out are not simple. Often, the surgeons and their team are operating for more than 8 hours at a time on a single patient.
In November 2022, Sarah worked with our Ukrainian partners in Lviv to undertake complex surgeries and held training sessions to develop techniques and improve outcomes for patients.
These training sessions are essential to ensuring healthcare staff in the country have the skills they need to provide the best level of care. Along with the Ukraine team, Sarah compiled a list of items that she is now fundraising for.
Speaking on the decision to support her fellow surgeons, Sarah said:
“The people of Ukraine who suffer injuries in the war deserve to have access to the kind of reconstructive surgery that would minimise the long-term disability they would otherwise suffer. Without it, they may have limbs amputated rather than reconstructed or may have to live with painful, non-functional limbs.
The team of Ukrainian surgeons that we have been training are capable, quick to learn, and very dedicated.
With the right resources they will be able to develop the skills and their service to provide complex reconstructive surgery that any health service would be proud of. In order to get to that point there are a few things that are needed, such as training microscopes, the seats that make it possible to sit in a reasonable position at the operating table, and a range of surgical instruments.
Please join me in raising the funds to make it possible for these surgeons to reach their potential for the sake of the war wounded.”