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Medical graduate provides a lifeline for remote Peruvian villages

13 Jul 2015

Graduation held no fear for a University of Manchester medic who has sailed up the Amazon and treated a snakebite victim in a jungle village

Lucy Trevor, from Flixton graduated at 4.45pm on 7 July ahead of starting a new job as a doctor at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, but of all the things she’s done during her studies it is the four weeks that she spent on a ship travelling up the Amazon to provide medical services for people in remote villages which will live longest in her memory.

As part of her fifth year, Lucy signed on with the Vine Trust, a UK charity which helps volunteers make a difference to children in some of the poorest communities in the world.

As a result, in April, she formed part of the medical crew on the Amazon Hope 2, a former Royal Navy ship which travels to along the river to jungle villages which are otherwise inaccessible and only see a doctor every two months.

During her expedition Lucy acted as a GP, providing medical treatment to villagers who suffered from dehydration and injuries caused by hard agricultural work and on one occasion even stabilised a young woman who had been bitten by a venomous snake.

Lucy said: “The young woman we treated was very lucky as she’d only been bitten the day before we arrived.  We have her fluids and antibiotics and arranged for her to be transferred long distance to a town with a hospital.

“Overall, Peru was an amazing experience but very humbling as these were very poor communities.  I’d brought some toys and clothes for the children with me but I wish I’d brought more.

The area which Lucy visited is one of the most remote in Peru and there are no roads or ground water supplies.  Villagers grow their own food and are reliant on the river bringing supplies from the outside world.  Some villages are so remote that access is only possible by a smaller speedboat.

While we were initially supervised by the senior doctors on the ship, we were soon left to it and I was able to learn quite a bit of medical Spanish alongside the translators.  This really helped me establish trust with the patients and is a lesson I’ll be bringing back to the UK as I work with non-English speaking patients during my career.”

See below for a gallery of photos from Lucy's trip:

As well as her Peru trip, Lucy has spent a lot of time taking on other extracurricular activities.  She’s mentored new University of Manchester students and organised the annual student ball. There’ll be no time for rest between graduation and starting her job either, as she signed on as a first aider to cover sports and music events around the city.

She said: “Although medicine is a demanding degree, I think you’ve got to get involved in these extra opportunities to provide some work life balance. It’d be all too easy to just study endlessly, but having these outside interests really helps you cope.”