Thursday, January 19, 2012

Doctor makes life-saving sacrifices

Top burns specialist Richard Wong She will miss part of his daughter's 13th birthday on December 3.

But that's a sacrifice he is willing to make for his patients. Dr Wong She is asking you to consider paying a much smaller price to help the National Burn Centre at Middlemore Hospital get the equipment it desperately needs.

He will be among those attending a Mad Butcher and Suburban Newspapers Community Trust fundraising dinner on his daughter's big day. The evening is being held as part of the trust's Operation Heal – a project aimed at raising $200,000 for a state-of-the-art operating microscope.

Dr Wong She says the microscope will make sure about 100 people a year receive the operations they need.

It will help burn victims, breast cancer patients and those needing serious limb injuries repaired.

"What we're using now is almost a decade old. The new microscope allows us to take a block of tissue, transpose it and plumb it into the arteries and veins of a new part of the body.

"We have seven surgeons who specialise in this type of procedure but only one and half older microscopes. It's like having a team of courier drivers but only one old van."

One patient eager for the arrival of the new microscope is 15-year-old Jimi Harper.

The wall of his stomach was blown out by a stray 11,000 volt powerline and he's been waiting since 2003 for an operation to repair it properly.

"The operation is not possible without this microscope," Dr Wong She says.

"So we will be able to finally fulfil that promise to Jimi and his family that we made seven years ago."

Dr Wong She also had to skip a nine-year-old daughter's birthday this year because he was training junior doctors. He says missing family milestones is necessary when lives are at stake.

"It's hard having to explain to my daughters why I missed their recitals, birthdays, and prizegivings. But I'm willing to make these sacrifices because I know I can make a big difference."

He says all the staff at National Burn Centre are now gearing up for their busiest time of the year.

"We see a definite peak about November, December and January. Holiday plus sun plus alcohol equals badness. So while the rest of the country is enjoying themselves – we're dealing with the carnage.

"That's why we're asking the public to please help us to deliver the 21st century healthcare that it needs."

The Mad Butcher and Suburban Newspapers Community Trust will hold a corporate charity dinner at Auckland's TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre on December 3. Guest speaker Prime Minister John Key will be interviewed on stage by broadcaster Paul Holmes during a night of glitz and glamour to raise funds for the National Burn Centre.

The evening starts at 7.30pm and will include live and silent auctions as well as music from the band Black Salt. A cheque will be handed over to the National Burn Centre at the end. Tickets cost $1850 + GST for a table of 10 or $185 + GST per person. Call Shandall on (09) 531-5910 or email

Last updated 10:23 17/11/2010

Dr Wong
Justin Latif
OLD EQUIPMENT: Dr Richard Wong She with the older operating microscope used at Middlemore Hospital.

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