Surgeon Performs Amputation With the Help of Text Messages, Saves Life

Text messages are being credited in helping save the life of a 16-year-old in the Democratic Republic of Congo when a surgeon performed an amputation using surgical instructions sent to him.

A British surgeon amputated a teenage patient's left arm using instructions that a colleague sent via text messages, according to the U.K. Daily Mail. The teen initially received an amputation just below his shoulder after a hippopotamus bit him. The boy, identified only as J, had suffered from a severe infection after the partial amputation and had just a few days to live, the doctor told the newspaper.

Dr. David Nott said he did not know how to amputate the infected part, and he asked his colleague Meirion Thomas for instructions via phone messages. Nott was unable to reach Thomas by phone or e-mail, but Thomas did respond to a text while away on vacation. Thomas sent two replies containing instructions and encouragement.

Thomas called the procedure "easy" and wished Nott luck, but Nott told the Daily Mail that he believed the teen stood an 80% chance of dying.

Nott said that the potential for complications was "enormous." With a pint of blood, a scalpel, forceps, and minimal anesthetic, Nott removed the entire shoulder, including the scapula. Nott performed the surgery in October while working for the French group Doctors Without Borders. He relayed the story during an interview with the Daily Mail this week. The experience was one of many horrors Nott recalled during his time in Congo, which is at war.


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