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Bengali surgeon performs world’s first live-streamed surgery

51Ansar Ahmed Ullah :

On Thursday 14 April the world witnessed the first medical operation

streamed live in 360-degree video, allowing medical students and trainee

surgeons across the world, including Bangladesh, to view the procedure in

real time via website.

52A surgeon at the Royal London Hospital Whitechapel, Dr Shafi Ahmed said

before the operation that he believed the approach, as part of plan to help

training, could improve and transform training of surgeons worldwide

including that of developing world. With internet connections, smartphones

and with a virtual reality headset, the costs would be reduced in comparison

to the expense of students travelling abroad to train.

While videos showcasing surgical procedures have been around for years, Dr

Shafi Ahmed believes the new approach will bring a valuable new feature to

education, allowing medical students and surgeons to focus not just on what

the surgeon is doing, but also on what other members of the team are up to

and follow the intervention at close quarters in an operating theatre.

Dr Shafi Ahmed has spent years experimenting with technology for the benefit

of healthcare. In 2013, he got hold of a pair of Google Glass, and grabbed

headlines by using them to live-stream the removal of a liver cancer. About

13,000 students from 113 countries tuned in, sending Dr Shafi Ahmed

questions that popped up on the lower corner of his Glass to which he

replied by simply speaking out loud.

Dr Shafi Ahmed travels frequently to medical schools in problematic areas

from Gaza, to his native Bangladesh for charity reasons. Having witnessed

first-hand the lack of infrastructure, training, machinery and students in

those countries are confronted with, he believes radical change is required

to achieve global healthcare. On his approach he said, ‘Thousands of medial

students, especially those from low-income countries, can be trained by

someone in Harvard, or in London, or in Rome in virtual reality.’

Dr Shafi Shafi Ahmed qualified from Kings College Hospital Medical School in

1993. He was appointed as a Consultant General, Colorectal and Laparoscopic

Surgeon at Barts and the London NHS trust in 2007. He works in the Centre

for Academic Surgery where he is pioneering single incision laparoscopic

colorectal surgery (virtual scarless surgery).

He is an active member of the local Bengali community in Tower Hamlets

appearing in a regular TV health show to promote local health issues. He is

also on the board of Proshanti a local charity community project to set up a

health programme in Bangladesh. Dr Shafi Ahmed’s parents were late Sufia

Khanom and Mimbor Ali who played a significant role in the UK during

Bangladesh’s struggle for independence.