A New Zealand man trapped in rubble after the Christchurch earthquake had his leg amputated with a Swiss Army Knife when doctors realised there was no other way to save his life.
After discovering the man in a collapsed building after the 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit Christchurch on Tuesday, Dr. Stuart Philip decided that if he didn’t use the penknife, the man would have died.
Philip said: “Essentially the procedure was performed with a Swiss Army Knife. I know that sounds terrible, but that’s all we had.
“There wasn’t really any other option.”
Australian born Philip told how he and another doctor crawled through demolished buildings for five hours after the earthquake struck on Tuesday.
On discovering a man trapped under the Pyne Gould Corporation building they realised they would have to operate.
Philip’s companion doctor, a woman, was small enough to fit into the space near the trapped man and she began the amputation using a Swiss Army Knife.
Eventually the operation was completed using a builder’s hacksaw.
Although an anaesthetist was on hand to help with pain relief, the victim was in agony as his leg amputation was agony for the victim.
Both doctors were urological surgeons from Australia and were visiting Christchurch for a conference when the earthquake struck.
Speaking in Sydney on Friday, the president of the Urological Society of Australia, Dr David Malouf, said that the female surgeon involved was too traumatised to speak to the press.
“A field amputation of this sort is a very harrowing experience, especially under these conditions with very limited equipment and medication,” Malouf said.
“I’ve spoken with the individual, she’s doing OK,” he said.
“It was very harrowing and part of her dealing with what was a terrible situation is really just having some time to deal with it on a personal basis.”
The death toll from the New Zealand earthquake has now reached 113 and many hundreds are still missing.