A Hamilton Health Sciences surgeon has joined forces with McMaster University and an area Rotary Club to send urgently needed medical supplies to Beirut, Lebanon after the city was rocked by a massive warehouse explosion on Aug. 4. The tragedy killed an estimated 200 people and injured thousands.
“Many people suffered serious, life-threatening injuries and continue to be in need of medical care,” said Dr. Brad Petrisor, an orthopedic surgeon at HHS Hamilton General Hospital and a professor of surgery at McMaster. “We have been in touch with medical colleagues at a Beirut hospital and their first-hand reports of what they are dealing with are very concerning.” This includes significant open wound injuries and fractures.
“At the same time, three hospitals were demolished by the explosion and the city is experiencing a severe shortage of emergency medical supplies and equipment,” said Petrisor, who is also the director of McMaster’s International Surgery Desk, which develops international relationships to share knowledge and build sustainability for best surgical practices. Petrisor has travelled to countries including Haiti and Uganda to help train surgical residents.
HHS’s Franca Mossuto and Lilly-Ann Reynolds help load supplies.
A native of Woodstock, ON, Petrisor reached out to his hometown Rotary Club for support collecting medical supplies. Woodstock-Oxford Rotary connected Petrisor with a medical recycling depot in Stratford, which is run by Rotary member and retired Stratford General Hospital nurse Jean Aitcheson, as well as the Niagara Warehouse of Hope and Not Just Tourists which ship surplus and donated hospital supplies to countries in need. Those donations included essential surgical supplies as well as orthopedic implants and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Petrisor was also able to tap into medical supplies from HHS that were set aside by the International Surgery Desk for their global work. On August 13, he loaded those supplies into a rented cube van with help from orthopedic service resource nurse Franca Mossuto, fracture clinic lead Lilly-Ann Reynolds and orthopedic resident Batool Bosakhar. The HHS donation included orthopedic implants and surgical supplies.
“Through leveraging these partnerships, we already have over three skids of medical supplies ready for air shipment, in addition to the donated McMaster and Hamilton Health Sciences items,” said Petrisor, whose McMaster colleagues are matching Rotary fundraising to pay for shipping. He is expecting to ship these items in the next day or so by air.
Following this initial shipment, there are also plans to send a container full of medical equipment and supplies as soon as additional items are gathered. Funds are needed for shipping. For more information or to donate, visit www.CanadaHelps.org