Ansar 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.
A 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 worldwideincluding 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 in1993. He was appointed as a Consultant General, Colorectal and Laparoscopic Surgeon at Barts and the London NHS trust in 2007. He works in the Centrefor 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 Hamletsappearing 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.