A surgeon has travelled to a refugee camp on the war-torn Syrian border to help more than 100 victims of the conflict by fitting them with artificial legs made from plastic drainpipes.
Mr Viquar Qurashi, an orthopaedic surgeon at Dudley’s Russells Hall Hospital, used his annual leave to work in the camp in Reyhanli on the Turkish-Syrian border.
He and a team of 10 doctors worked in a makeshift clinic and workshop moulding the prosthetic limbs and rubber feet for men, women and children who have lost lower limbs in the war.
They were assisted by six technicians from Mr Qurashi’s native Pakistan.
And the 57-year-old plans to return to the country in around six weeks, during his next period of leave, to continue the work with injured people.
Mr Qurashi, who sits on the Associate Parliamentary Limb Loss Group, travelled to Syria at the request of the Syrian British Medical Society and colleagues at the hospital.
He has used every period of leave since 2007 travelling to Pakistan to help fit the artificial limbs to those in need.
The prosthetics costs only £30 compared to the £1,200 needed for the type given to NHS patients.
Mr Qurashi’s wife, Ambreena, and daughter Maria, who is herself studying medicine, have accompanied him on his trips.
He also set up the Naya Qadam Trust, a non-profit organisation of volunteer overseas Pakistani doctors, which helps to fund the artificial limb materials.
Mr Qurashi, who lives in Elgar Crescent near to the hospital, first became involved following the devastating earthquake which hit Pakistan back in 2007.
He travelled to the country to care for those injured in the disaster and had to carry out amputations on those who had been hurt.
“When I came back I was haunted by this.
“I was overwhelmed by the thought of who would help and care for those people,” he said.
“There is no NHS over there so I began to think about what could be done to help those people continue with their lives.
“The most obvious solution was to provide artificial limbs but these were very expensive costing £1,000. I had more than a thousand patients in Pakistan who needed help. So I needed an alternative.”
He said after extensive research the basic design for the prosthetic limb had been found which could be created from cheaper materials.
“This had existed since around 1961. I did not create it but I have now modified it and developed it to meet the needs of those using it.”
He has fitted more than 3,000 limbs to amputees in Pakistan. “The limbs made from drainpipes are not as sophisticated as the western limb,” he said.
“But having a prosthetic costing up to £1,000 would be of little use to someone who does not have the money, technology and materials to maintain it,” he said.
“We can make limbs from the drainpipe material for £30 and provide those free to people in need.”
He plans to take the limbs to other countries in the future – such as Haiti, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Vietnam.