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Orthopaedic care worth travelling for: Patient flies in from the Falklands

Newsdate: June 2018

Shaun East

After breaking his collarbone in four places, Falkland Island native, Shaun East, had few specialist care options available to him at home.

So he flew halfway around the world to receive care with Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.

The 14-year-old from Stanley, the Falkland Island capital, injured himself while playing football and was taken to his local hospital where he received immediate care. However, during his treatment, it appeared that surgery had to take place, and as the Island’s small hospital had limited resources, Shaun’s doctors had to seek help elsewhere.

“I went up for a header and the other player was a bit bigger than me,” says Shaun, “I hit his hip and went tumbling and the next thing I know I was on the ground.

“I reached over and felt my collar bone was sticking out.”

The manager of the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in Stanley made contact with Wrightington Hospital and the Deputy Director of Operations, Rebecca Lyon, was only too happy to rise to the challenge to arrange for the necessary urgent shoulder surgery to take place.  

Shaun’s epic journey to Wigan’s Royal Albert Edward Infirmary began with a flight from the Falkland Islands to Chile, followed by a transfer in Brazil that took him to Heathrow and then a final car journey to Wigan.

But, due to radio issues with one of the flights, the whole journey was delayed by a few days, with Shaun and his dad, Justin, arriving in the town five days later.

“All the time we were flying over I was really concerned about anyone nudging past Shaun or anything like that, but he just got stuck into a movie on the plane and wasn’t fazed at all,” says Justin.

“When the doctors said we were going to Wigan I had to have a bit of a Google, because, even though I was born in the UK, I have lived on the Falkland Islands for 30 years, so I didn’t know exactly where it was – I just knew it was up North!”

On arrival in the UK, Shaun’s surgery took place at Wigan Infirmary and was performed by Mr Puneet Monga, an Orthopaedic Consultant who specialises in sports injuries and shoulder surgery at the orthopaedic centre of excellence at Wrightington Hospital.

He was then looked after by staff on the Infirmary’s Rainbow Ward.

Mr Monga, said: “It has been our privilege to help Shaun recover from the recent injury to his shoulder.

“It is indeed incredible to see how well Shaun is recovering from surgery after such a circuitous journey.

“As the world is getting smaller with the advances in communication, technology and air transport, we are able to provide levels of care to patients far beyond what would have been possible in the past.

“It provides unique opportunities for centres of excellence such as Wrightington Hospital to offer our services on an international stage.

Mr Monga added: “Shaun’s case is illustrative of such potential in future and also highlights the logistic challenges of being able to offer such services to the future surgical patient.”

Speaking on the day of his discharge from the hospital, Shaun, who will have to spend a further week in the UK due to his injury, said he couldn’t fault WWL staff.

“Mr Monga went through everything that would happen during my surgery and all of the staff have been brilliant, they have really looked after me and my dad.

“The hospital is a bit bigger than the one at home, and there are a lot more people, but everyone has been lovely and accommodating.