LIFESAVERS: The team, from left, Dr John Ferguson, Steven Kendaura, Dr Kapiro Kendaura and transplant unit director Dr Paul Trevillian. Picture: RYAN OSLANDGAINING access to health care in Papua New Guinea is difficult but becomes even more so when the doctor delivering the services gets sick too.
That is what happened at Goroka Hospital in Papua New Guinea’s highlands, when acting medical services director Dr Kapiro Kendaura suffered kidney failure.
Despite receiving regular dialysis treatment he was only months from death before the intervention of Hunter New England health infection prevention and control director John Ferguson.
Dr Ferguson travels to the country each year to teach and heard of his colleague’s plight.
Some months and a massive community and logistical effort later, Dr Kendaura was flown to John Hunter Hospital to receive a kidney transplant from his brother Steven, a high school teacher.
Dr Kendaura was released from hospital a week after his surgery on December 3 and will soon return to the country where his 100-bed hospital serves some of the 300,000 people who live in the highlands.
‘‘I’m so lucky. I owe the hospital a lot. They spent a lot of time and resources helping me,’’ Dr Kendaura said.
‘‘I don’t know how to thank these people.’’
The surgery was made possible after the health care service offered its services pro bono and hospital staff raised $15,000 for travel, accommodation and medication costs.
The hospital has done work for Papua New Guinea previously, but nothing as major as a transplant.
The staff also had to conquer challenges such as cross-matching blood across international borders.
‘‘Chronic renal failure is a death sentence in Papua New Guinea,’’ Dr Ferguson said.
The hospital is also part of the Hunter Transplant Research Foundation, a subsidiary of the Hunter Medical Research Foundation, that works to improve outcomes in transplant patients.