Trauma surgeon shares challenges of treating war injuries

February 07, 2005
WILMINGTON - Trauma surgeon Dr. Pascal Udekwu will share his experience of treating war injuries while in Afghanistan at the 16th Annual Trauma Symposium on Saturday, Feb. 12, at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside. The event is hosted by New Hanover Heath Network and sponsored by Coastal Area Health Education Center.

Dr. Udekwu spent six months in Afghanistan serving as a surgeon for the Army Reserves. While recounting his experiences there, Dr. Udekwu will discuss how war zone experiences relate to hospitals' trauma units. He will also discuss how war zone knowledge is used to augment disaster readiness.

While serving with the Army Reserves 452 Combat Support Unit in Kabul, Afghanistan, Dr. Udekwu mostly treated Afghan civilians with landmine injuries. He also treated Afghan militia, U.S. troops, U.S. non-military, coalition troops and enemy forces. However, Dr. Udekwu was most impacted by an 8-year-old boy who had swallowed a whistle that remained lodged in his left lung for a year before he was able to cough it up. Dr. Udekwu performed a pneumonectomy on the child to alleviate continuing respiratory problems, allowing the child to return to normal activities for the first time in five years.

Dr. Udekwu has been an active member of the Army Reserves since 1988. For the past 13 years he has been a surgeon with WakeMed's general surgery, trauma and critical care practice, as well as the director of trauma for the past two years. Dr. Udekwu is also an associate professor of surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His "In the Trenches: Trauma During War" presentation is scheduled for 3:15 p.m.

The trauma conference is an annual event that brings together national experts to discuss the latest trends, breakthroughs and case studies in trauma care. Dr. Thomas Clancy, Trauma Services Medical Director at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, said the Trauma Symposium is "very beneficial because it provides an educational opportunity for all people in the region involved with trauma care."

The Trauma Symposium allows those in attendance to receive Continuing Medical Education credit that is required for trauma providers to stay qualified in their specific areas.