Trainee doctor Helen Grimsmo risked own life to save a sherpa

Dr Helen Grimsmo with Ang Gyalzen and his wife
Dr Helen Grimsmo with Ang Gyalzen and his wife

A TRAINEE doctor risked her life to save a sherpa who fell 80ft down Mount Everest.

Former Stamford High School pupil Dr Helen Grimsmo, 38, was trekking to base camp of the world’s highest mountain on March 20 when her team got a call for help.

Mountain guide Ang Gyalzen had fallen from a kite used to aid climbing, shattering his pelvis and suffering serious leg injuries.

Without a second thought Dr Grimsmo, an emergency medical trainee at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, climbed almost 1,000ft in the dark to help the injured man.

With minimal medical supplies she performed surgery on his right foot and stopped him from bleeding to death. Surgeons at the Nepalese hospital where Ang Sherpa is recovering said her actions saved his life.

Dr Grimsmo, who is now back in her home in Plymouth, said: “It was absolutely desperate. He had been carried on a dinner table part way down the mountain with no pain relief.

“When I got there, he had a really bad open fracture on the leg and was bleeding heavily.

“His foot was hanging off and I knew we had to put it back on. Otherwise he would have lost his leg and probably wouldn’t have survived.

“I’m so used to being able to ask for help and to having a full team of people around me – it makes you appreciate the paramedics, nurses, consultants, everyone involved in a major trauma.”

Dr Grimsmo, a former chorister at All Saints’ Church in Stamford and an experienced climber, flew to the Himalayas on March 17 for a trek to Everest’s base camp.

When she got the call for help she climbed up the mountain with another sherpa to Namche Bazar, where Ang Gyalzen was waiting.

With the help of doctors at a local clinic she performed a nerve block and reduced the fracture. One of the other doctors walked for three hours to fetch morphine from another town.

Dr Grimsmo wants to raise money for the clinic to help them buy much-needed medical supplies.

Her mother Morag Roberts, of Drift Road, Stamford, said: “I was very proud when I heard, I was taken aback to think that she had done it.

“She just did what she is trained to do. She didn’t think about her own safety.”