A visitor came excitedly to the airfield at Kpong last week. ‘I heard girl on the radio…’ he exclaimed half-sprinting across the grass. I raised my head, wondering what could be so amazing and, as he sat down, he continued ‘there is this young woman in hospital who wants to be a pilot!’. He was so excited at the news; I am sure that my wry grin and un-surprise burst his bubble. He went on ‘It was on BBC World Service, there is a Ghanaian Reconstructive Plastic Surgeon who just got some award in
Lydia is a fifteen-year old, smiling, young and energetic somebody I know very well, and have spent over a year working with her towards her rehabilitation, preparation for surgery and flight training.
The BBC reported that Mr Opoku-Ware-Ampomah has this month received investiture as a ‘Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of
Lydia came to the airfield and started learning to fly, sponsored by WAASPS and Medicine on the Move, and showed such a great spirit, determination and tenacity that it became clear that she had what it takes to undergo release of the contracture and reconstruction of her right arm.
Mr Ampomah is one of only a handful of reconstructive plastic surgeons in
Yes, this was done in
Aviation here has extra challenges with the environmental conditions, so does the RPS and Burns Unit at Korle Bu. The heat, the atmospheric petri-dish we all breathe and the conditions that visitors and staff drive and walk through on their way to the hospital create increased risks of post-operative infection and complications. With this there is a need for more attention to detail – something which Mr Ampomah is clearly working towards, support from those who ‘should-and-can’ permitting, elevating the standards of post-operative care massively.
Through this surgical miracle, giving increased independence, quality of life and manipulative potential to Lydia, we hope to see her reach solo flight within a year, going on to become, we believe, the youngest person to train to become a pilot in Ghana and possible the first disabled person to achieve that target.
Today in the USA a documentary has been released at Oshkosh Air Venture, the largest General Aviation event in the world, and it not only ‘stars’ but it is also dedicated to ‘Lydia’. In the footage Lydia can be seen flying Melissa Pemberton, world famous Aerobatic pilot, who visited Ghana recently, and is also interviewed on screen where she declares her desire to fly to rural communities and to tell them through health education how to avoid the challenges that she will live with for her whole life. I saw the documentary on a pre-release showing in
I am proud to be a supporter of Lydia and of Mr Ampomah, including the whole crew at the RPS and Burns Unit, and I have to say that Alberta, the resident Physio, is amazing in the way she supports the recovery and stretches the body and minds of those she works with – and look forward to seeing the end result of their efforts in the coming months and years.
GCAA will get to know Lydia very well over the coming years, and I hope that you will too; she has already been involved in helping with the work on the runway at Kete Krachi, supported one hundred children on a ‘fly me’ day at Kpong, logged a good number of flight training hours, undertaken first aid training and shows no signs of letting her disability preventing her reaching the places that most able-bodied people consider too hard to get to!
Thank you Mr Ampomah,
Capt. Yaw is Chief Flying Instructor and Chief Engineer at WAASPS, and lead Pilot with Medicine on the Move, Humanitarian Aviation Logistics (http://www.waasps.com/ www.medicineonthemove.org e-mail email@example.com)