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News > Alumni News > Suheal Khan (OS 1982) discusses how his time at SGS instilled the skills to lead global aid charity

Suheal Khan (OS 1982) discusses how his time at SGS instilled the skills to lead global aid charity

Suheal Khan (OS 1982) discusses how his time as Lacrosse Captain at SGS equipped him with the skills to lead vital aid teams globally for his charity Mobile International Surgical Team (MiST).
11 Mar 2022
Alumni News
Suheal Khan (OS 1982) Senior Orthopaedic Consultant & Director of Mobile International Surgical Team
Suheal Khan (OS 1982) Senior Orthopaedic Consultant & Director of Mobile International Surgical Team

We recently caught up with Old Stopfordian, Senior Orthopaedic Consultant and Director and Founder of the Mobile International Surgical Team (MiST) Foundation, Suheal Khan (OS 1982), to find out more about the Foundation's efforts to deliver limb-saving operations to victims of natural and man-made disasters globally, what inspired him and how others can help support the cause.

After leaving Stockport Grammar School and reading Medicine at The University of Sheffield, Suheal became one of the leading Orthopaedic Surgeons in the county – and one of only 20 that had studied a revolutionary technique to help fix shattered limbs, without the need for amputation.

How MiST was Founded

As a specialist in his field, Suheal observed his skills were desperately needed in areas affected by war and natural disasters.  The absence of co-ordinated international responses following disasters often meant that by the time injuries could be assessed by a surgeon they were unable to save the limbs.  After observing a high level of amputation following natural and man-made disasters Suheal founded the Mobile International Surgical Team (MiST) Foundation in October 2005, in the wake of the devastating South Asian earthquake.

Suheal explained:

“Back then, there wasn’t a co-ordinated international surgical response so when natural disasters did happen, victims were waiting weeks with painful broken limbs before they could be assessed by a surgeon. Often this meant that we couldn’t save the limb and for people in some Asian countries this effectively made them a social pariah.  They don’t have the same support as we do for amputees, losing an arm or leg meant that they couldn’t work and some turned to begging to help feed their families.

“I created MiST to provide rapid surgical help, and to make sure that people’s quality of life was maintained.

“It’s my belief that access to quality health care is a basic human right and shouldn’t depend which country you were born in – a person from Cambodia deserves the same quality of care as someone from the UK.”

MiST now operates globally, and has expanded to train surgeons from less-developed countries to perform the vital operations.  In the longer term the Foundation hopes to expand its capacity towards the building of surgical centres across the developing world, become self-sufficient in surgical and nursing expertise and ultimately provide excellent health care to the local populations.

The impact of Lacrosse

Suheal credits his professional career with his time playing lacrosse at Stockport Grammar School and says that sport has helped to lay the foundations of his achievements, telling us:

“I played Lacrosse for the school and county in the 1970s.  I remember my teachers being very encouraging of me to chase my dreams and work hard to make them happen.

“I spent seven happy years at the school, Lacrosse was definitely a highlight for me and I eventually became the captain of the School and Cheshire U18 side. I learned a lot of skills during my time as captain – namely how to unite people towards a common goal.  I think this definitely helped equip me with the skills to become a leader, and it’s something I use every day while working with doctors and surgeons from across the world.”

Suheal's passion for lacrosse is as strong as ever and he doesn't hesitate to share his love for the sport during his aid missions.  During a 9 months programme working in Gaza in 2010, operating on cases, teaching and training junior surgeons Suheal shared:

 I saw many children playing but nothing organized for them to do. So one Friday I turned up with my lacrosse sticks and started to play with the Gazan kids …they were superb …..the next convoy due in Gaza from UK is going to bring another 20 lacrosse sticks so I can start a proper lacrosse school and maybe one day we can have a Palestine team playing in the World Championships!”

How Old Stopfordians' can help

Suheal also wants to encourage fellow Old Stopfordians to get involved with the charity to help provide all-round care to victims.  The Foundation covers a wide range of services to support communities from hands on support, education and training, research and development, governance and community support projects.

Suheal shares how art therapy has made a huge difference to the lives of Leprosy sufferers in Cambodia:

“I remember when I was working in Cambodia, next door to the hospital was a clinic for people who suffered with Leprosy, when I visited it was in total darkness and the patients didn’t have anything to look at or engage with.

“I got in touch with an artist friend of mine who set up art therapy out there.

“On my next visit to Cambodia, I visited the clinic again and it was completely transformed – the patients were smiling and happy and were busy painting.

“I also believe in all-round care. It’s not just a broken leg that needs fixing, but often my patients are traumatised after surviving a natural disaster or living in a war zone. It can be good to have something else to help occupy their mind.”

If you'd like to support the MiST Foundation, or get involved visit: https://www.mistngo.co.uk/what-we-do

Suheal now spends the majority of his time living abroad and travelling to help teach the next generation of surgeons how to perform the limb-saving operation.

Suheal training a team of surgeons

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