It seems so many of the best stories in the high tech industry come from the least developed parts of the world, where the simplest technology can be a lifesaver. In this case quite literally, saved the life of 16 year old boy in Africa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The boy was in hospital supposedly because his arm was bitten off by a hippopotamus while fishing. The UK based doctor, David Nott, who was in Congo through his volunteer work with Medicins Sans Frontieres, suspected the 16 year old boy had in fact been shot during the civil war that rages in the country. But the arm was badly infected and gangrenous. He would die in 3 days.
Dr Nott knew that this required a very special type of amputation - because of the enormous blood loss when an arm is removed - and he had never done such an operation. But Dr Nott had his mobile phone, and knew a specialist in the UK who does this type of amputations (they do 10 of these per year in the UK, typically to some cancer patients). So Dr Nott contacted Dr Meirion Thomas at the London Marsden Hospital - and Dr Thomas agreed to send the amputation advice via SMS text messages to Dr Nott.
The boy survived. Imagine that, a life-saving operation, done by a surgeon who had never done that before, and being advised only via SMS text messaging. How wonderful. The BBC covered this story on the news today, and have the story with pictures at the BBC website. Thanks to our friend Alex Kerr for covering the story at Forum Oxford.