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Quake victim's legs amputated with pocket knife

world Updated: Feb 26, 2011 00:14 IST

AFP
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An Australian doctor described on Friday how he used a pocket knife and a hacksaw to amputate the legs of a man trapped under rubble after New Zealand's deadly earthquake.

Stuart Philip was among a number of Australian doctors in Christchurch for a medical conference when the devastating 6.3-magnitude quake flattened the South Island city on Tuesday, killing at least 113 people.

He told Australian broadcaster ABC that he was scared for his life as he and other medics decided that the only way to save the injured man, whose legs were crushed under a heavy beam, was to perform the amputation.

Although pain-killing anaesthetic was available, the tools used to carry out the operation amid the shaking remains of the Pyne Gould building were basic. "The majority of it was done with a blade from a Leatherman knife and builder's hacksaw," Philip said.

"It's not something that's even easy for us as surgeons. Nothing prepares you for that."

Philip, a urologist, said that he and the other doctors, who performed the surgery were rocked by aftershocks as they, helped the man.

He said that the man was now out of intensive care and recovering well.