Surgical procedures taught in Brighton are being used to treat soldiers on the front line in Ukraine, injured in the bloody war with Russia.
Surgeon Gianluca Colucci, is a surgeon for University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, working at Worthing Hospital, and also a senior lecturer at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.
Since the full scale invasion of Ukraine began, Gianluca has been working with the SmartMedicalAid charity, delivering teaching, training, medical supplies, ambulances, medical evacuations and many more activities in the war-torn country.
One of the life-saving projects involved creating 10 medical imaging phantoms, which are objects as stand-in’s for human tissues to ensure that systems and methods for imaging the human body are operating correctly.
He then took the models with him and trained Ukrainian medics in Kharkiv, who could then use the surgical techniques to save lives of wounded soldiers in battle.
While most of the charity resources are deployed to support the war victims, there are other unmet medical needs which are non-war related – and this is what Gianluca now want’s to address.
“We have to try and look at other areas of medicine of treatment that are not being met because of the war. And create a little bit of normality away from the war – hard as that can be.
“This is why I created Project IOLE (Improving Outcomes in Laparoscopy By Education). I want to help to establish a formal teaching program to support the development of laparoscopic surgery in Ukraine. As a first event I will lead a team of 5 Colorectal surgeons from the UK who will run a 5 days laparoscopic course in the regional Hospital of Lutsk in November 2023.
“The standard of the course we created has been recognized by the Association of Colo Proctology of Great Britain and Ireland and by the Royal College of Surgeons of England. The first two days we will provide a basic laparoscopic course for surgical trainees, while the last 3 days we will provide a master class of laparoscopic colorectal surgery, with live operating. Nicola and Katie, two female surgeons who will be part of the Faculty, will also run a parallel session of the role of woman in Surgery,
“We aim to support civilian needs and try to bring a bit of normality to the doctors who have been overwhelmed by the needs brought by the war, and the added element of helping in developing keyhole surgery in the Ukraine.
“Laparoscopic surgery is used on the frontline- but due to the needs of the war, all the “normal treatments” were left behind. This is why the need to try to help in supporting cancer surgery, the main focus of the course. While the war is still raging, there are all the necessities that a normal population has. People still have cancer and need treatment even during the war. And this is a war that has been now going on for almost 2 years.”
Gianluca added: “This project is very close to my heart even from the name. IOLE was my mother’s name,. She was an active Red Cross volunteer and an example for many.
“I would be grateful for any support that can help us deliver this project and enable us to continue to provide support in Ukraine. It costs a lot of money so we are still fundraising and people can donate vis his JustGiving page.
“We are so grateful for the funds raised so far.”