DAISI team

Left to right: Dr Dhivya Thangaval, Dr Lilian Yuan, Dr Sean Heinz, Dr Suzanne Khaw, Ulla Makinen, Dr Leo Lacy, Michelle Koed, Dr Justin Azzopardi, Ruth Milton, Angeline Naqu, Alex, Dr Alan Tong and Dr Benjamin Koete.


This Gynaecology & anaesthetic trip to Gizo Hospital was requested on 23rd October 2018 and approved by Dr Dickson Boara and Dr Leeanne Panisi on 2nd Dec 2018.

Unfortunately, due to there also being a Gynae conference on overseas, Head Gynaecologist Dr Leeanne Panisi (a usual regular attender) was not able to attend this trip.

Unaware that Monday 8th July was “Independence Day” for the Solomon Islands, the DAISI team had to delay their arrival by three days, with the first day operating on Tuesday 9th July. This also meant only three days operating instead of the intended five.

The trip was led by obstetrician & gynaecologists Dr Alan Tong (from Westmead Hospital) and anaesthetist Dr Leo Lacy (from Randwick Women’s Hospital).  This was Dr Tong’s third DAISI trip to the South Pacific and Dr Lacy’s fourth.

Screening of patients was organised by the very capable Director of Nursing and midwife Henrietta Jagilly, and Dr Benjamin Koete (gynaecologist from NRH) and Dr Angeline Naqu (gynae registrar from Gizo) on Thursday & Friday 4th & 5th July.  Less than the usual number of cases attended for screening, perhaps due to the Solomon Island’s Independence Day’s festivities with fewer OT cases booked than previous trips.

It was a great team involving two anaesthetists (Dr Leo Lacy & Dr Lilian Yuan) from Randwick Women’s Hospital, one anaesthetic registrar (Dr Justin Azzopardi) from the Sunshine Coast,  one gynaecologist (Dr Alan Tong), one gynae fellow (Dr Sean Heinz), and two gyanae registrars (Dr Suzanne Khaw & Dr Dhivya Thangavel) all from Westmead Hospital.  The trip was also very fortunate to have two nursing staff (Ruth Milton from Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital and  Ulla Mäkinen from Randwick Women’s Hospital) and two fantastic medical students (Michelle Koed from Denmark and Alex ??? from the UK).  This is in addition to the wonderful Gizo team including gynaecologist Dr Benjamin Koete, gynae registrar Dr Angeline Naqu, anaesthetic registrar Dr Unu Gagahe, OT nurse manager Clayton Daylano, and OT nurses Patricia Bosso, Viola Piziki and Henao Boara.

Dr Alan Tong’s team completed 16 cases in total (see below “log book stats” link) with three open total abdominal hysterectomy cases, two laparotomy cases (myomectomy and ovarian cystectomy), one vaginal repair, four laparoscopy cases, four D&C and two cervical biopsies.

All cases were conducted in two theatres supervised by three anaesthetists, six surgeons and six nursing staff. Although there were more staff than patients on this trip, the cases were nonetheless well worthwhile and an enjoyable time was had by all.

Special congratulations to Dr Benjamin Koete and Dr Angeline Naqu who performed their first laparoscopic surgery in Gizo. This is a major advancement for them and paves the way, for building on these skills learnt, for subsequent trips.

Apart from an exciting three full days of theatre time, the team members also enjoyed the relaxation part of Gizo with tasty seafood and relaxing water activities including snorkeling and scuba diving and traditional Gizo hospitality.

Dr Alan Tong & his team departed Gizo 9:25am Friday 12th July, and arrived back in Sydney at 9:10pm.

Dr Leo Lacy and his team stayed back for some more snorkelling and departed Gizo two days later on Sunday 14th July, arriving Sydney 9:10pm.

Although there was no formal debrief at the end of the trip, overall the dynamics were great with enthusiastic participation by all.

All DAISI members expressed an interest in returning, and Dr Alan Tong has already put in a request to Dr Dickson Boara for a return Gynae Trip to Gizo from Friday 10th – Saturday 18th July 2020.  This will avoid the Solomon Island’s Independence Day on Tuesday 7th July 2020.

The purpose of next year’s DAISI Gynae trip to Gizo will be to further develop the laparoscopic and open skills learnt by Dr Koete and Dr Naqu this trip.

In terms of equipment for upcoming trips, a laparoscopic bipolar Marylands forceps  and an additional 0 degree and 30 degree laparoscope would be advantageous for doing more complex laparoscopic gynae cases. Diathermy pads, pipelle for endometrial biopsies,  speculums and sutures (0 and 2/0 Vicryl) were also in scarce supply and need restocking. Ideally next trip should involve screening a larger group and allow for 5 days operating and ideally involve 15 cases (eg 10 minors in minor ops room and 5 majors in the major ops room) on a daily basis.




Dr Justin Azzopardi, Dr Lilian Yuan and Dr Leo Lacy. 


Dr Dhivya Thangavel at Gizo Hotel with Dr Leo Lacy and Ulla Mäkinen.



Dr Alan Tong, Ulla Mäkinen ?, Dr Dhivya Thangavel, Dr Suzanne Khaw, & Dr Lilian Yuan



Left to right: Lillian Yuan, Dhivya Thangavel, Leo Lacy, Alex ???, Michelle Koed & Justin Azzopardi.


Dhivya Thangavel, Ulla Mäkinen, Michelle Koed & Suzanne Khaw at Gizo Hospital main entrance.


Chickens feeding at Gizo Airport.


Lilian Yuan, Ulla Mäkinen & Leo Lacy.


Angeline Naqu, Dhivya Thangavel & Pattie Bosso.


Dr Suzanne Khaw and Dr Benjamin Koete doing diagnostic laparoscopy.


Dr Suzanne Khaw and Dr Bejamin Koete doing cut down for Laparoscopic Hasson port insertion.


Dr Benjamin Koete doing open TAH.


Scrub Nurse Patricia organising set up for spinal. 


Dhivya Thangavel, Ulla Mäkinen, Suzanne Khaw, Alex?? & Justin Azzopardi returning from scuba diving.

just & suzanne

Dr Suzanne Khaw, Dr Justin Azzopardi, and Ruth Milton.



DAISI trip # 9 – July 2019 (Gynae & Laparoscopic Surgery) to Gizo Hospital, Western Province, Solomon Islands – still being developed


???patients screened for gynaecological conditions.

16 operations performed:
4 minor (laparoscopic)
0 major (laparoscopic)
7 minors (open)
5 majors (open)