Mr Martyn Webster is a director of ReSurge Africa – previously Chairman. He worked with Jack Mustardé, founder of ReSurge Africa at Canniesburn Regional Plastic Surgery Unit in Glasgow, where he has worked as a lecturer and consultant since 1971.
“When Jack returned from his first visit to Ghana in 1992, he asked me for my help in forming a charity that would eventually become ReSurge Africa. The aims of the charity remain the same today – to create a sustainable reconstructive surgery service in Ghana and other countries in West Africa.
Ever since the charity was created, we’ve emphasised the importance of training local surgeons in the techniques involved in reconstructive surgery. The experienced surgeons travelling to Africa were not obliged to do the work themselves, but were specifically asked to help the local surgeons – to assist them and give them the necessary skills and confidence to carry out the treatment by themselves.
Being trained by leading figures in reconstructive plastic surgery – notably Tom Gibson, Ian McGregor, Ian Jackson and Jack Mustarde himself – I was in a good position to be able to follow Jack’s lead. Following my retirement from the NHS in 2000, I took the position of Chairman of the charity alongside a team of directors of whose knowledge, passion and enthusiasm has made the charity a pleasure to work with and ensured its success.
Likewise, I have always been inspired by the enthusiasm and professionalism of our African trainees. Our very first trainee, the late Fabian Mork, came to work in the Canniesburn Unit in 1993 for two years, before returning to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital as chief of the reconstructive plastic surgery service there. He was followed by Albert Paintsil, who dedicated himself to the provision of high quality care, and most recently Opoku Ware Ampomah, who has been an inspiring leader and made great strides in establishing the recognition of Korle Bu as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in West Africa.
Jack’s vision is well on the way to being achieved. The centre is now independent and self-sustaining, training its own surgeons and even training others from neighbouring West African countries, and both Albert Paintsil and Opoku Ampomah are now directors of Resurge Africa.
Seeing a patient that the Ghana team, unaided by any Europeans, had successfully operated upon was an incredible moment. Our aim now is to emulate that success in Sierra Leone. With the aftermath of a brutal civil war and the Ebola crisis still being felt, it’s no easy task, but, with a little help and support and a lot of dedication, we will succeed”.