Report from Giampiero Campanelli

22-26 JANUARY 2007

An unused annex of the old hospital in Takoradi was renewed and supplied with all the necessary equipment for a small surgery wing thanks to the help of British High Commission in Ghana, CNR (an oil Canadian company), Plymouth Hospitals, Rotary International and European Hernia Society, under the initiative and the supervision of Prof. Andrew Kingsnorth.

Giampiero Campanelli, Professor of Surgery of University of Insubria in Varese and General Secretary of European Hernia Society, attended to this beautiful initiative, both during the preparatory and active stage.

During the week, from 27th January to 3rd February, Prof. Campanelli, with the help of his assistant Dr Marta Cavalli, completed 31 procedures including abdominal hernia repairs and urologic operations. He was able to adjust the surgical needs with the local situation and performed all the procedures in conditions that sometimes were not so easy: blackout occurred frequently leaving the operating theatre without light and cauterisation not taking into account the poor surgical instruments: not much, not suitable and damaged by continuous use, but enough for a practiced surgeon.

Thankfully, Prof. Campanelli brought from Milan a baggage full of all the essential material for the surgical procedures (meshes and sutures, drugs and dressings, lancets and syringes, gloves and masks), but it was essential to always pay attention not to waste anything.

But nothing stopped his will or opposed his final end-point: to operate on as many patients as possible.
Most of the cases were performed under local anesthesia: this kind of anesthesia requires a compliant patient, and so the help of the nurses, who could translate and explain the proposed operation to the patient, was absolutely essential and very precious.

However, lack of language didn t stop Prof. Campanelli: he also tried to speak Fante (the local language), with the consequence that many patients couldn t avoid some laughter during their operation, due to his peculiar pronunciations. This hard working week was possible thanks to Dr Boateng-Duah and Mr Brian Dixon.

Dr Boateng-Duah (Medical Director of Takoradi Hospital) arranged screening of all the hernia patients before their surgery (choosing among 500 people contacted by a television announcement) and provided all necessary requirements to complete the operations.

Mr Brian Dixon, representative of local CNR, provided an excellent logistic support, including an Italian coffee machine.

Everybody who played a role in the organization and running of the Hernia Centre helped our Surgical team to work in a humanitarian and selflessness atmosphere and enable a relationship with each patient, that never should be omitted.

Of course it was a very hard-working week, but also so rich in satisfaction and experiences that when coming back to Italy there was an inevitable sense of loss for all the people that were encountered in Takoradi... so, to the next new humanitarian mission!!