A GLOBETROTTING doctor prescribed an overdose of exercise to help fund a medical mission to India.
Patients at Morpeth’s Greystoke Surgery were greeted by an unusual sight on Friday as Dr Matt Kurian hauled himself from Sri Lanka to India — all on an indoor rowing machine at the practice.
The GP will travel to Bangalore next month as part of a mission team from the Tyneside Vineyard Church in Newcastle and will provide medical care for some of the poorest communities.
But first he must raise enough cash to fund the kit and drugs he will need for his work.
Dr Kurian visited Sri Lanka in November to advise on health issues in some of the country’s tsunami-hit areas so to support his Indian trip he decided to complete a sponsored 20-mile row — the distance between the two countries.
And to make the challenge even more gruelling, he set a target of finishing it in just two-and-a-half hours.
Last week friends and colleagues watched as he set about the task.
Afterwards he said: “The aim was to do it in two-and-a-half hours and I said I wouldn’t accept any of the money if I didn’t because I wanted to make it more of a challenge. I did it in two hours, 22 minutes, flat, which means I can take the money. I’m sore all over and my body is burning everywhere at the moment, but having said that, it was well worth it.”
Dr Kurian will undertake a number of tasks during his two-week trip, helping women who have been rescued from the sex slave trade, providing medication for children and assisting with general care, as well as offering some light relief by teaching hockey, though he will need to provide hockey sticks for the activity.
One of the main elements of the mission will see him travel to the remote community of Mardala, where he will provide medical care for more than 400 children, many of whom suffer from asthma. The Morpeth GP hopes to take inhalers and medication to help them.
“It is a very poor area and there are a lot of children with asthma,” he said.
“It is a rural area so pesticides and chemicals are used in the community and open fires are used indoors for cooking, which are some of the issues.
“I’m away for two weeks so I have to try to make as much impact as I can in those two weeks. There are about 400 children in the school so as well as the asthma clinic, I will see them for other problems as well.”
Dr Kurian has already collected more than £2,000 to provide the medical supplies, but he hopes to raise even more before setting out on April 19.
“To date, I have raised £2,500, which is great, but the more the better because the more equipment I can get out there, the more treatment I can offer the kids. These kids are in a school in the middle of nowhere so they have nothing,” he said.
“I have been absolutely blown away by the support of my patients, who have been absolutely wonderful, and the staff have also been incredible, but I need to raise as much as possible because I want to take a lot of equipment out there with me.”
To support the trip, visit www.justgiving.com/mattkurian