Preparing 36 Kuwaiti doctors for surgery in Gaza

With support from the Foreign Common Development Office (FCDO) and Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society (KRCS), we upskilled 24 Kuwaiti surgeons and 12 anaesthetists who intend to volunteer as humanitarians in Gaza. This marks our first direct partnership with the UK government.

Faculty Lead: Dr Ammar Darwish. Surgical Faculty: Dr Mahmoud Hariri, Professor Steven Mahoney, Dr Saladin Sawan, Dr Juan Robinson. Anaesthesia Faculty: Professor Pete Mahoney, Dr Oliver Harrison and Dr Hussein Nagi. 

Kuwait is home to over 4.2 million people. Sandwiched between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait is a small but influential country in the Middle East. As the war continues to wage in Gaza, a number of Kuwaiti doctors have plans to volunteer their skills on the frontline. Upon invitation from the FCDO and KRCS, we were pleased to upskill 36 doctors and prepare them for complex trauma injuries.

Our Co-Founder, Elly Nott, said:

“Recognised by the UN as a Humanitarian Center and embodying the values of charity and humanity, Kuwait is a natural partner for the David Nott Foundation. During this mission, we trained 24 surgeons and 12 anaesthetists in partnership with the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society and the British Embassy, Kuwait.

The doctors have been trained in surgical skills essential for saving life and limb and will contribute to relief campaigns and humanitarian initiatives in the region. There is sadly no end of need for their skills in the world at present and we look forward to further collaboration with our colleagues here in Kuwait for the benefit of those who suffer in conflict.”

The skills required by doctors in Gaza at this time extend far beyond surgery. Being calm in a crisis, able to adjust to the needs of the patient in front of you and adapt to the hospital’s resources – or lack of – are absolutely vital. Doctors and anaesthetists that rely on innovative surgical tools or drugs will only have so much impact in active war zones.

Consultant Anaesthetist and DNF Faculty Trainer, Professor Pete Mahoney, said:

“In conflict zones, there may not be reliable electricity, water or access to medical gases such as piped or cylinder oxygen. You need to be able to pivot and use something called ‘draw-over’ anaesthesia to deliver suitable medication. This is when the use of simple masks or a bag can be used to pull volatile agents (anaesthetic medications) into the patient’s body.

We also taught the Kuwaiti doctors how a simple anaesthesia machine can be constructed from components as they may need to build one in the field with whatever the hospital has. It is critical that humanitarian doctors are able to adapt.”

We know from our Faculty Lead in Palestine that doctors on the ground don’t always have the time or available tools to fix bones together with metal pins. To give doctors other options that require less equipment, we taught Kuwaiti doctors how to set bones with plaster casts, which can help breaks to heal in the absence of pins.

The British Ambassador to Kuwait, Mrs Belinda Lewis, said:

“The fact the UK government’s first partnership with the amazing David Nott Foundation took place in Kuwait is testament to the strong and productive relationship between our two countries. This combination of British and Kuwaiti expertise will undoubtedly support the medical response to the dreadful suffering in Gaza.

I am grateful for the assistance of a number of people in Kuwait who have helped me to bring in this expert team from the UK, and I would like to pay special thanks to Professor Ghassan Abu Sittar, veteran war surgeon and humanitarian, who first suggested this valuable partnership to me.”

President of the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society and former Minister for Health in Kuwait, Dr Hilal Al Sayer, said:

“On behalf of the Kuwait Red Crescent Society, I extend my appreciation to the British Embassy for their facilitation of the training course throughout this process. I also extend our sincerest gratitude to the David Nott Foundation for their invaluable expertise. Their guidance has empowered our esteemed consultants with the skills needed to navigate the complexities of emergency medical care as volunteer medics in conflict zones whose dedication serves as a testament to the spirit of humanity that defines our National Society.

Last, but certainly not least, I extend my heartfelt thanks to the National Bank of Kuwait for their generous support, we are truly grateful for their partnership.

I am immensely proud of the collaboration that has characterized our time together and am confident that we will carry forward the lessons learned in our shared mission to serve humanity with compassion and expertise.”

Until we can support and upskill doctors on the ground in Gaza, we will continue to do all we can from a distance. The delivery of our surgical and new anaesthesia courses to Kuwaiti doctors who intend to enter Palestine as humanitarian volunteers, forms part of our unwavering commitment to the ongoing crisis.