In certain places on earth, safety and stability seem unreachable. There are people who lost their homes due to natural and man-made catastrophes. There are patients living in areas lacking adequate medical care. Brian Wong Kit, who used to be an operating theatre (OT) nurse for years, travelled to Bangladesh twice as a volunteer in an emergency surgical hospital’s operating theatre and helped save lives in the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State of Myanmar.
In 2005, Brian failed to get an offer in physical education programme through JUPAS. But he happened to read a brochure of the OUHK’s nursing programme and that marked the beginning of his passion in nursing. Upon graduating from the OUHK, instead of working in a ward, Brian served in a operating theatre where every second counts. It was particularly challenging in the event of an emergency during a surgery and immediate measures had to be taken to save lives. After a long day of challenging and time-pressed work, Brian always boosted his mood with the words from Prof. Joseph Lee Kok-long, former Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies – ask yourself every morning why you chose to be a nurse. ‘His words always remind me the way forward.’
Helping the needy suffering from forced displacement
Brian has always wanted to help those in need with his professional knowledge. Ever since he was a student, he has had the idea of volunteering abroad. In 2017 and 2018, he had the chance to travel with the Hong Kong Red Cross to Cox's Bazar, the South-eastern part of Bangladesh connecting with the Rakhine State of Myanmar. There he volunteered as an OT nurse in a field hospital serving the vast number of displaced people. During the month-long stay, Brian regarded every day as a new challenge. ‘Hospitals in Hong Kong are fully equipped, where a typical C-section calls for around 30 to 40 pieces of equipment. But in Cox’s Bazar, we only got eight tools to use. And there were only a surgeon, an OT nurse and an anaesthesiologist handling all sorts of surgical operations.’ In the shortage of resources, the medical team’s solid basic skills and adaptability to changes are often severely tested. For this, Brian was grateful that the OUHK has laid him a solid foundation. ‘I remembered we ran out of chest drain once and I had to assemble a makeshift device, using plastic bottles, rubber tubing and adhesive tape, with the knowledge I acquired at the University.’
A field operating theatre could be a place imbued with a sense of resignation, but also laden with hope. ‘One day, an expectant mother whose baby was in cardiac arrest and a dying child were sent into the operating theatre at the same time. Due to inadequacy of surgical instruments, the team could only save one of them and we had to make a choice.’ Having gone through some struggles, followed by a series of emergency treatment, the team finally saved the mother and the baby. ‘We had seven cases of infant death that day and he was the only one who survived. That’s why I can still recall vividly,’ said Brian.
Sharing professional expertise beyond the ward
Brian currently works in the Youth & Volunteer Department of the Hong Kong Red Cross, in charge of development and deployment of first aid service, and ongoing training for first aiders. Though no longer a front-line nurse, he is still keen on sharing his nursing and volunteer experiences including giving lessons to medical teams on disaster relief and first aid knowledge both locally and overseas. In the future when there is a chance to volunteer for overseas humanitarian service, Brian will go all out again.
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