Dr Julian Shah helped rescue a victim of the Christchurch earthquake
Published: 31 May, 2012
by TOM FOOT
A CONSULTANT surgeon has been recognised for rescuing a woman trapped in earthquake rubble in New Zealand in a “selfless act of bravery”.
Julian Shah, 55, who is a consultant surgeon urologist at University College London Hospitals, rushed to help the severely injured woman after she was crushed by a beam in the top floor of a building in Christchurch.
Dr Shah was among hundreds of urologists attending a conference at the time of the natural disaster last February that killed 185 people.
The woman was pinned to the floor but Mr Shah gave expert medical attention that saved her legs.
After attending to the woman, a powerful aftershock rocked the building for a second time and Dr Shah was forced to leap across to a neighbouring roof.
Earlier this month he flew to Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory to receive a medal presented at the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand annual scientific conference.
Dr Shah said: “People were saying we were heroes and, although I wouldn’t go that far, we did our best – we didn’t shirk from trying to help.
“We were the first doctors to get there. I just volunteered, but then why wouldn’t I? You’re either a doer or you’re not.”
The inaugural Christchurch Medal for Bravery was presented to four urologists.
A UCLH spokesman said the medal was a particularly poignant item – it is forged from metal taken from the destroyed Crowne Plaza Hotel, where the conference delegates had been staying.
The earthquake, in February last year, severely damaged the South Island’s largest city, killing 185 people, in one of the country’s deadliest peacetime disasters. It measured 6.3 on the Richter Scale.