My son is currently working at my brother’s company: Health Cuts Ltd. He is literally making human hearts out of silicone and they just had some amazing news – that as a result of the training, a 12 year old boy’s life has been saved in Ukraine.
My brother is an incredible craftsman and having taken a somewhat interesting career trajectory, he has ended up becoming one of the world’s leading medical model makers. He works very closely with David Nott, consultant surgeon and co-founder of The David Nott Foundation, who has spent the last 30 years taking unpaid leave to provide surgical treatment and training in conflict and catastrophe zones. The David Nott Foundation commissioned my brother to build “Heston,” the model below which is a bespoke and anatomically accurate trauma surgery training simulator. “Heston” is taken around the world in order to teach surgeons life saving techniques, often with limited resources in war zone situations.
David was in my brother’s studio last week and told them the incredibly uplifting story of how the body, hearts and numerous other anatomical models they make for the David Nott Foundation were literally saving lives. Two Ukrainian surgeons had shared their story of how they removed a piece of shrapnel from a little boy’s heart after using skills learned on their Hostile Environment Surgical Training (HEST) course (hence the name “Heston”).
Dr Natalia Romanova from Kharkiv Regional Paediatric Hospital joined their HEST course in Ukraine this June. There, she learned how to treat fragmentation wounds – injuries caused by flying shrapnel – using their surgical trauma model that my brother made (pictured below) as well as the individual hearts and other models my brother also produces (with my son’s help!).
Before her team presented this case to fellow surgeons, Dr Romanova felt compelled to contact The David Nott Foundation and share her delight at saving a life against the odds and she wrote to them:-
It may be unexpected for you to receive this letter. You might not remember me, but it is the (best) way to express my gratitude and it is my duty to do it. I am a paediatric surgeon from Kharkiv, Ukraine. In June, we attended your magnificent HEST course. My colleagues and I are very grateful to you for all the information and skills we gained within those three days of training.
We were not used to working with such cases in peaceful times, so your professional guidance and knowledge are priceless for us now.
Unfortunately, we face mine-blast trauma or penetrating wounds constantly (in Ukraine). Every single day.
“I was ready”
Despite never treating a penetrating wound before, Dr Romanova shared: “I was ready.” The surgery was successful, and the child was later discharged and evacuated from Ukraine.
Here is my son working in the studio:-
Shortly after completing the surgical training course in Kharkiv, Dr Romanova had to put her new skills to the test. A number of children were rushed to hospital after a shelling attack. Metal shards from a cluster munition had penetrated the lung and heart of a 12-year-old boy – fatal injuries without rapid action.
Together, the team performed a thoracotomy and pericardiotomy, opening the chest and heart’s sac to find the source of bleeding.
From there, the team removed a blood clot covering a tear in the boy’s heart and blocked the hole with a finger. Carefully and swiftly, they repaired the injury using a piece of the heart’s sac, before sewing the torn lung back together. Thanks to their speed and skill, Dr Romanova and her team saved the little boy’s life.
After Dr Romanova’s team presentation, David Nott, said: “Many, many congratulations on such an amazing operation. I was so delighted that you were able to save this child’s life. You have done a brilliant job.”
What an amazing thing to be doing. So proud!