A TEAM from South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust is setting off on a volunteer mission to help people in one of the poorest areas of India.
The medical experts will be carrying out life-changing operations at Walawalkar Hospital in Dervan, on the West coast of India, under the leadership of Dr Sanjay Deshpande, consultant anaesthetist at South Tyneside District Hospital.
Next month’s trip will be their eighth visit to India and, this year, it has largely been funded through money raised from a charity concert held last autumn.
The Passage to India event at Temple Park, Centre, South Shields, was arranged by trust staff and raised £9,250 – enough to pay for the team’s travel and cover shipping of vital equipment, as well as provide three filters to ensure clean water for the village for years to come.
Jamie Lambert volunteered to help organise the concert and Shelley Quantrill, a theatre sister at the hospital and treasurer of SVJC Trust which supports the mission, said they were delighted to take him up on his offer.
Jamie, 22, of Washington, who has carved out a career in singing since winning a talent contest at the Customs House, South Shields, as a teenager, headlined the event.
Mrs Quantrill said: “Each year, we try and raise about £5,000 towards the costs of the trip, but we never in our wildest dreams expected to make so much from the concert, which was a sell-out.
“We can’t thank the performers, who gave their services for free and everyone who bought tickets, enough and they can rest assured that, through their efforts and support, we will be transform people’s lives.”
The aid team, including doctors and nurses from a wide range of specialties, give up their time to spend a week in India carrying out operations at the hospital and in outreach camps.
Last year, they helped 150 patients by restoring sight, correcting facial deformities, repairing hernias and replacing joints.
Dr Deshpande had the idea for the mission, which involves staff from Spire Washington Hospital, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
This time, there will nearly 30 staff from the North East in the group.
Dr Deshpande said: “It is an amazing experience to go to Walawalkar and help people whose quality of life would be reduced if left untreated.”
Dr Suvarna Patil, medical director at Walawalkar Hospital, said: “We are indebted to Dr Sanjay Deshpande and his team for the initiation of this medical mission.”
Anyone wishing to donate cash, books, clothing and equipment, can contact Dr Deshpande on 202 4046 or trust chairman Dave Wales on 202 4142.
To find out more about the SVJC Trust, go to www.topopdoc.com