Papua New Guinean farmer Peter Asafa has been handed a new chance at life by altruistic residents who brought him to Australia for surgery.
Papua New Guinean farmer Peter Asafa has been handed a new chance at life by altruistic residents who brought him to Australia for surgery. John Mccutcheon

Surgeons end years of groin pain

THREE hours.

That is all the time it took for Sunshine Coast doctors to get Peter Asafa on the road to recovery after six years of suffering.

Peter was shot in the groin during a tribal skirmish in Papua New Guinea.

Surgeons Tony Gianduzzo and John Hansen operated on Peter for free at Sunshine Coast Private Hospital in Buderim last month.

They found about 40 chunks of shrapnel sprayed through Peter’s pelvis and embedded in his bladder, bowel and prostate. The shrapnel would have eventually killed him if it had not been removed.

One of their goals was to try to repair the damage so Peter would not have to use colostomy bags.

However, it was so significant that nothing could be done.

Dr Gianduzzo, a urological surgeon, said there was no chance of Peter’s bowel or bladder functioning properly again.

His bladder was severely infected and had to be removed because it threatened his life.

“We couldn’t reverse (his colostomy bag) because of the degree of destruction,” Dr Gianduzzo said.

The bullet that injured Peter was fired from a Russian-made AK-47 rifle.

It shattered when it hit him, piercing his pubic bone and spraying across his pelvic region. Dr Gianduzzo said the wound could have killed Peter quickly had it damaged serious organs.

“These bullets are designed to kill you rather than maim you,” he said.

The two surgeons were approached to help Peter by Dennis Campbell, a doctor at the private hospital who had learned of the Papua New Guinean’s plight.

Dr Campbell and Gale Duffield rallied for Sunshine Coast businesses to help Peter’s rehabilitation.

They first learned of the 29-year-old through the charity group Friends of Pacific Islands.

Charity members Mark Shirley and Tony Bell have known Peter for years.

They spread his story to try to find help.

Peter was grinning widely yesterday as he recovered from the surgery.

Doctors expect him to be healthy enough to fly home in a few weeks.

The shy Papua New Guinean said the first thing he would do when he returned to his tribe was give his wife and six-year-old son a hug.

The tribal war in Papua New Guinea has now ended.

Peter lives in the small village of Irafo, which has a population of about 200.

Most live in one-room thatched huts and grow coffee trees for income or work at a saw mill set up by a charity that has built a school and helps construct homes.

Jean and Ken Taylor opened their home to Peter during his stay on the Coast.

The flights to bring Peter to the Coast were paid for by businessman Allan Staines.

Tests, scans and X-rays were donated by Coast businesses Sullivan Nicolaides, X-Ray and Imaging Caloundra, Andrea Ahearn Private Hospital and Nambour hospital.

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