Plastic Surgeon Dr Ian Holten repurposes his skills in Vanuatu
In a ramshackle hospital in the Vanuatu capital of Port Vila, Dr Ian Holten is performing brain surgery on a 14-year-old boy who’s been run over by a speedboat.
Lifting up a section of the boy’s skull, he operates on the brain before replacing the bone plate and stitching him up.
But Dr Holten is not a brain surgeon; he’s a plastic surgeon. He’d never performed this surgery in his life. Yet in a country such as Vanuatu, where the health system is overwhelmed, the distinction is largely immaterial.
Days after the surgery, the patient was sitting up in his bed, talking.
Dr Holten saw 40 other patients on his recent 10-day trip to Vanuatu with Interplast. The patients are mostly treated for birth deformities, trauma or burns – and when a brain injury presents itself, the doctors simply do what they can.
“Every small contribution makes a difference,” says Dr Holten.
Dr Holten volunteers his time through Interplast is an organisation that sends health professionals to the Asia Pacific region to perform life-changing surgery.
This article appeared in Marie Claire, Women’s Beauty & Fashion Magazine, September 2017