Tuesday, 27 November 2007

It is difficult to cut a head off with a panga

By Bongi of the Other-Things-Amanzi Blog.

I have decided to break from my series to quickly blog about a recent patient.

I now know it is difficult to cut a head off with a panga. It is not something I wanted to know. It is most assuredly not something I wanted to find out the way I did.

I was called to theater only after she had been put to sleep. The plastic surgeon wanted me to attend to some of her many wounds while he pieced together the face. I don't think I am easily shocked, but I was. She was about 60. She had been attacked in her house by a group of men wielding (and swinging) pangas. She was transfered to our hospital where the plastic surgeon took her to theater. He then called me.

I walked in. The right side of her face had multiple slashes. The angle of attack was slanted downwards. The side of her face had been sliced off in thin slivers like a piece of roast beef. A piece of the mastoid process had been sliced off. The layers lay loose, attached only at the lower neck. I assume these were the first wounds inflicted. She must have fallen forward then. This I know because the next wound was in the posterior aspect of the upper arm. The triceps was completely transected. The humerus itself had a deep gash in it. I suspect the assailant would have had difficulty removing the panga from the humerus, the wound was so deep. By this stage the woman must have been face down, defeated. The next wound was over the right scapula. The scapula was cut right through. There were two separate pieces with all the muscles transected as well. The force mustered to deliver this blow must have been emense.

I quickly realized that an orthopod would be a better bet for the patient than me. We called one. He scrubbed up and went to work as the plastic surgeon pieced together the jigsaw (read panga) puzzle that was her face.

And her crime? She was white. Yes, she was simply the victim of a racial hate crime.

I remain in shock.

About Bongi, the author: "I'm a general surgeon working in the notorious South African province of Mpumalanga."

Source: Other-Things-Amanzi Blog

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