A seriously injured fisherman is transferred to the visiting Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark for emergency rescue in waters near Tarawa, Kiribati on July 14. (photo on July 13). Photo byreporter Li Yun from Xinhua News Agency
More than 60 hours later, after his right leg fracture, a Chinese fisherman surnamed Shang embraced the hope of survival in the South Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles away from homeland. The Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark, which was on its way toward Tarawa, Kiribati at that time for a seven-day goodwill visit during the Harmonious Mission 2023, adjusted its route as a temporary arrangement to rush for rescue.
On the morning of July 11, he accidentally fell into the sea while fishing in waters east of Tarawa, Kiribati and got his right lower limb cut by the stern propeller of the fishing boat from the front, causing an open fracture of his tibia and fibula. As constrained by the limited medical conditions on the fishing boat, his physical condition continued to worsen with wound infection, and he had to seek help from the Chinese Embassy in the Republic of Kiribati.
At that moment, the Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark was carrying out the Harmonious Mission 2023 over the ocean. According to the mission plan, Kiribati has been the first stop for the hospital ship's visit during the mission.
Upon receiving a notification from the Chinese embassy, a maritime rescue operation for a compatriot’s life kicked off. After studying and reporting the situation, the hospital ship decided to adjust the route immediately and meet up with the fishing boat halfwayas soon as possible.
Medical personnel aboard the hospital ship stayed up all night waiting for Shang, who was about to be transferred to the ship for rescue.
After 28 hours of high-speed sailing, Peace Ark rendezvoused with the fishing boat at around 2 a.m. on July 14, when Mr. Shang had been suffering for over 60 hours without painkillers.
At 5 a.m., the staff launched remote medical consultations with their PLA Naval Medical University counterparts via satellite. Six orthopedic trauma and joint experts jointly gave suggestions for the final operation plan.
At 6:30 a.m., the injured fisherman was brought into the operating room on a gurney. The first open fracture surgery aboard the hospital ship Peace Ark got started in the South Pacific Ocean.
Debridement and suturing, Kirschner wire internal fixation, and plaster external fixation were performed under general anesthesia. After nearly four hours of intense treatment, the medical staff thoroughly cleared the necrotic and infected tissue around the wound, and the fractured end was repositioned and fixed to control the spread of infection, successfully completing the DCS.
At 11 a.m., the surgery ended with great success. When Shang awoke and saw his right leg properly handled, he gratefully held the hand of the chief surgeon, Lin Wenbo, and said, "Thank you so much, and thanks to the Chinese Navy.”
It is understood that when the wounded were transferred to Peace Ark, the open fracture of the right lower limb had occurred for over 60 hours, resulting in a high possibility of distal limb necrosis of fracture . If the infection had spread as well, amputation or even life-threatening danger would have occurred. “As of now, the risk of amputation has declined, and there is great hope of preserving the right lower limb of the wounded, " said Dr. Lin Wenbo.
"Providing emergency medical assistance to overseas Chinese compatriots is the due duty and an integral component of the Chinese People's Navy. This surgery is the first one completed during the mission and is a comprehensive test to our medical service capabilities,” said the commanding officer of the mobile hospital at sea.