Mission of murdered Stevenage doctor realised

A YEAR after she was murdered by the Taliban, the mission of Stevenage doctor Karen Woo to send much-needed medical supplies to Afghanistan has finally been accomplished.

Dr Woo was shot by insurgents while bringing medical aid to remote villages in the war-torn country last August.

The 36-year-old former St Nicholas and Barclay School pupil, who grew up in Brixham Close where her family still live, came to The Comet offices in February last year to talk about an airlift of medical supplies she had organised to Afghanistan the following month.

She spoke of how she had collected items from various hospitals in the UK - particularly medications which are usually destroyed if distributed and unused - after becoming aware of a severe shortage of medical supplies in areas of Afghanistan.

“The Afghan government gave over the running of some of the hospitals to non-governmental organisations,” she explained. “They are able to do a lot more than the government hospitals because they have external funding.

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“I’m trying to help the government hospitals. They have much less equipment, are limited on medications, and the doctors often don’t get paid.”

But the airlift was cancelled at the last minute and Dr Woo was killed six months later, before her aim could be realised.

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“Karen thought she had promises of the supplies being flown out, but they were promises that couldn’t be kept,” her mum Lynn explained.

“She sadly died before being able to the see the completion of the goods being delivered.

“Since then we have been trying to find different ways of doing it.”

Dr Woo’s fianc�, Paddy Smith, who she was due to marry two weeks after her death, and her friends Clive O’Sullivan and Mike King, all vowed to continue with her mission.

It has taken a year since Dr Woo was killed to find a way to achieve her aim.

On Thursday last week, a 40ft container was filled with boxes of surgical gloves, syringes, tissues, swabs and other medical supplies and shipped to The Emirates.

From there, the container will be flown into Kabul, Afghanistan, where the items will finally be distributed to hospitals where they are in short supply.

“It will take about a month to get there,” said Mrs Woo.

“We are very grateful to the particular people who just kept going on and on about it.

“We were very emotional when the container was being loaded.”

For information about The Karen Woo Foundation, a grant-giving charity set up in Dr Woo’s name to help those bringing aid to Afghanistan, visit www.karenwoofoundation.org

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