This month, we have spoken to Urology champion Graham Watson about the value of global surgical collaborations and InterSurgeon as a platform for facilitating initial contact for international partnerships.

Let’s make InterSurgeon something more effective. It really deserves to be. I believe in it.

Mr Watson is a recently retired Urological surgeon from the UK. He qualified in 1975 and quickly took to surgery, specifically endoscopic laser removal of percutaneous stones which is how he started his work in global surgery; “The first thing that happened to me was that I was working on developing a laser to break up stones and that got me doing a bit international travel because it was so interesting at the time. We came up with a product and I was going round demonstrating it.

This work reignited a love of travelling and a surprising benefit. “I got invited to help with surgery in Sri Lanka in 2008. One of my previous trainees said come on over and help us get started. I made a few visits to Sri Lanka so we decided that we would set up courses that we would hold them in Sri Lanka and train UK trainees alongside Sri Lankan trainees. That brought in experts from India and China and I was suddenly faced with much more difficult stone scenarios. I really grew, my techniques changed and it made me a better surgeon… In my 60s, I was evolving which is really bizarre. Instead of retiring I was evolving and developing a much better technique. And then I was hooked.

In the last 10 years, most of his work in global surgery has been with his charity MediTech trust and concentrated in Africa including Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Benin, Senegal, the Gambia, Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda, South Africa and Egypt. “We’ve got a number of countries really well established in the technique and Senegal and Benin are the main winners in this, they are the front runners in their ability to do procedures and have done many hundreds of cases.

In the past, he has used personal connections to form working relationships. Now he says; “Mostly what I have done is tell everyone that I have trained to get on to InterSurgeon because I believe in it. I believe in it as a really important step for the future. What we have got to do is make it absolutely part of what we do… and get everybody doing it.” Mr Watson describes the benefit of InterSurgeon for the global surgery community; “InterSurgeon is the perfect vehicle for the future and world where we all unify and come together and tell each other of our experiences and encourage others to do that same.”

Although there are challenges with an online forum, he outlines the importance of following up on matches to develop these long-term partnerships; “you are only going to make a few trips, especially if you are working and you have to make the right trips. Sometimes you are better off meeting someone at a meeting and saying ‘yes I’ll come’. Perhaps the initial contact can be on the internet but then a face to face is invaluable so that you can gather that yes this is someone that I want to work with.”

From InterSurgeon, Mr Watson was able to use the help lightening technology in Benin and he said “if you’ve got a way of staying in touch remotely and helping remotely great. And then you can say left a bit right a bit over the phone lines. I find that hugely helpful.” Idea sharing and collaboration on a InterSurgeon is helping maintain global partnerships; “Even some of the ideas that have come up, the use of the smart goggle for example was an amazing development and really useful… just an amazingly good idea and staying in touch is a major problem with global training.”

He proposes further uses for the platform; “I am mostly urology and one of things I would like InterSurgeon to think about doing is cooperating with us [MediTech] so that we have a site where people can say yes I would like another … 200 ET tubes (endotracheal tubes), I would like this many orthopaedic [equipment].

To sum up, he says “The power of InterSurgeon is, that at the end of the day, we want to have a global unity to global teaching, global training”. He feels that; “InterSurgeon is the perfect vehicle for the future and world where we all unify and come together and tell each other of our experiences and encourage others to do that same.”

Would you like to be a specialty champion and help us promote InterSurgeon? Get in contact with our team.