A brief overview of OPSA (Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal)
OPSA started its journey back in 1988 when Mr Nick Hart, OPSA’s chairman, and then Lead Surgeon was invited to Pakistan and involved in providing surgery for children with facial abnormalities and un-repaired clefts. The operations were performed in a hospital based in Gujrat, Pakistan.
Initially, the OPSA team comprised of a Consultant Anaesthetist, Dr Zahid Rafique, a senior theatre nurse, Annette Middleton, and a Senior Operating Department Practitioner, Rae McGlone; all are still active members of the surgical team and are charity trustees. Medicines and equipment were generously donated by local NHS and private hospitals, and medical device organisations. With repeated visits, the team was able to train more nurses and medical staff, and local surgeons and anaesthetists joined us.
Nicholas Hart (FRCS - Trustee & Chairman)
Mr Muhammad Riaz (FRCS - Trustee & Medical Team Member)
Dr Zahid Rafique (FRCA - Trustee & Medical Team Member)
Mrs Annette Middleton (RNG - Trustee & Medical Team Member)
Mrs Rae McGlone (Registered Practitioner - Trustee & Medical Team Member)
In 2004 Mr Muhammad Riaz joined the charity as a trustee and surgical team member, and has been directly involved in its growth ever since. He has been the Lead Surgeon for a number of years now, since Mr Hart retired from surgical practice).
OPSA continues to be a small charity established by a group of like-minded health professionals in East Yorkshire, and over the years has gone on to attract surgical and medical experts from across the UK and Ireland, and indeed internationally i.e. Professor Reha Kisnisci, an expert in maxilla-facial surgery, from Turkey.
All trustees and surgical team members give of their time completely voluntarily; there are no paid members of the team. All donations are used exclusively for the benefit of the patients, such as medical and surgical equipment and consumables, and travel expenses when necessary, for the surgical team.
The Aims of our Charity
Cleft Hospital, Gujrat, Pakistan
Our aim is to help to support a sustainable cleft service in Pakistan, delivering complex surgery and other associated treatments to babies, children and young adults who have been born with congenital deformities such as, but not exclusively, cleft lip and palate. Our objective is to support our overseas partners (The Decent Welfare Society, and The Cleft Hospital, Gujrat) with practical help (in terms of surgical skills), and training in all areas of healthcare associated with such conditions.
These services are delivered free of charge to impoverished children and families who would otherwise have no recourse to such treatment, and therefore suffer a lifetime of misery.
Over the years trainee cleft surgeons have joined the team, to learn from the cleft and max-fax Consultant Surgeons. (It is not unusual for trainees to observe and be involved in the treatment and care of more cleft patients over the 7 days of each camp, than they would see and treat over the course of a year in the UK and Ireland, so is a huge learning opportunity). These trainee surgeons are actively supported during the camps by recognised specialist cleft surgeons such as Mr Chris Hill (Belfast) and Mr Chirs Theopold (Dublin), on a regular basis. They are given the opportunity to engage with the patients and their families in all aspects of the treatment, including pre and post-operatively. Mr Riaz organises and manages surgical placements for the trainee cleft surgeons attending the camps.
Where we are now
Cleft Camp Team 2017, Gujrat, Pakistan
Since the team’s first trip back in 1998, a purpose-built hospital has now been built, The Cleft Hospital, Gujrat, primarily for the care and treatment of patients with cleft lip and palate conditions. This was the result of a collabrotive effort on the part of a number of individuals and organizations, both in the UK and abroad. This facilities include audiology, dental and speech therapy departments. Prior to this, the work was carried out in a community-based private hospital (formerly a furniture factory!) set up and managed by Dr Ijaz Bashir, and the care and treatment was free of charge to such. Dr Bashir continues to work tirelessly, in the best interests of the children of Pakistan who are impoverished.
OPSA charity now benefits hugely through having a large multi-disciplinary team who regularly attend the Cleft Hospital, Gujrat on a bi-annual basis where the OPSA team deliver training across different disciplines of staff in the hospital, and patients receive the best possible surgical treatment.
Recently, plans have been drawn up for a large extension to the Cleft Hospital to be built, to improve the services further. This will include 2 operating theatres, PACU, and in time, an Intensive Care Unit. The overall objective is for the facility to be equipped to deliver services to the same standard as in the West, and, in time become a centre of excellence.
A recent and very successful fund-raising event (March 2020) was for the purpose of raising funds to help support and commission the new build, to achieve this standard of facility.
Cleft Camp Team 2019, Gujrat, Pakistan
Learning opportunities for trainee cleft surgeons
Mr Riaz has a keen and ongoing interest in supporting the teaching and education of plastic surgery trainees, and as such is a key player in a number of related national and international medical and surgical organisations and institutions. These include the British Association of Aesthetic & Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS); the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS); the British Foundation for International Reconstructive Surgery & Training (BFIRST).
He has recently taken up the position of Plastic Surgery Lead of International Postgraduate Deanery of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh (RCS) and is a member of the Surgical Speciality Board for Plastic Surgery. This role involves helping international trainees for their placement in different hospitals in the UK for their training.
If you have an interest in learning more about how Mr Riaz can support trainees, please contact him via Gale Bell, his PA 0n 01482 841228 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can visit his website – www.mrmriaz.com
Opportunities to get involved
Miss Penny McManus (FRCS - Medical Team Member)
Ways you can help
Everyone involved in OPSA works as an unpaid volunteer. That’s why your support is fundamental to our work. We aim to secure corporate sponsorship for many of our costs but we still need to pay for many different things including work visas, local transport costs and medical equipment.
If you are a medic/healthcare worker who perhaps knows of general theatre equipment, surgical and anaesthetic, which may be destined to be replaced/upgraded by your hospital/Trust and you think it may be of value in the Cleft Hospital, please get in touch. Much of the equipment that we have we have procured over the years has come from such sources, and is invaluable.
If you are some-one who is willing to undertake a sponsored event on OPSA’s behalf that would be very graciously welcomed!
Donating is easy. We can accept donations from all major credit and debit cards. You can choose to make a single one-off donation or a regular amount: the choice is yours. Donate to OPSA today at https://opsa.enthuse.com/#!/
Become a medical volunteer
We focus on partnering with local surgeons, theatre staff and medical professionals in Pakistan to offer life-
changing, free-of-cost surgery for babies and children with such disfiguring and disabling abnormalities.
Medical volunteers, Cleft Hospital, Gujarat, Pakistan
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, get in touch at email@example.com. We are interested in hearing from like-minded health-care professionals who can actively help and support the project in the longer term, both here and in Pakistan.
OPSA Contact details
firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01482 841228
Overseas Plastic Surgery Appeal
C/O NL Group Limited
Riverside House, 3 Earls Court
Henry Boot Way
Cleft Hospital Gujrat
National Hwy 5,
Telephone. +92 53 3558057 or Email. email@example.com