A Royal Navy doctor has said he is humbled to be awarded an MBE next month as reward for his humanitarian work.
Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Will Sharp has been awarded the honour after treating migrants rescued by Plymouth-based survey ship HMS Enterprise in the Mediterranean.
Lieutenant Commander Sharp saved a critically ill baby’s life with emergency resuscitation and stabilisation, before travelling on a dangerous small boat transfer to transfer the infant and mother to hospital.
He and his small team worked long days dealing with neglected trafficked patients, pregnant mothers, fatalities, infections, illnesses and victims of all types of violence.
Lt Cdr Sharp said he was incredibly humbled by the award.
“This was very much a team effort and without the support and professionalism of my small team of medics and ship’s company, the outcome for many of these people we rescued could have been very different.’’
One of his major achievements involved the ship rescuing 712 people from six dangerously overcrowded and unseaworthy rubber boats in a single day.
Will attempted the emergency resuscitation of two migrants on their boats, before having to perform the sad duty of certifying their deaths and embarking the bodies.
His caring professionalism has been praised by the MBE citation:
“A difficult duty which he performed with the utmost dignity, providing what comfort he could to their watching families”.
Thanks to his efforts not a single patient died once on board.
The citation states:
“Sharp is an example of the very best of the Royal Navy Medical Service, and is thoroughly worthy of an award.”
He said the role as the single doctor in HMS Enterprise was the biggest challenge of his career:
“Knowing that I could be confronted with people of all age ranges with a wide variety of illnesses, of which some may be life threatening, was daunting. I was very proud that we were able to show these people care and compassion at times of personal suffering.
Some of the stories of those rescued were horrific. We treated those with evidence of torture and serious assault and we treated victims of rape. Many of the people who had been trafficked were held in camps ashore for days or weeks before deprived of adequate levels of food and water.
We treated mothers and newly born babies who had been born in camps ashore with no access to medical support.’’
Most of the pregnant women rescued heard their babies’ heartbeat for the first time thanks to Will and his team – their delight was very rewarding to the medics among the suffering.
The medics had to also recover bodies from boats and Will said:
“To be able to show humanity and care to people who have suffered, more than many of us could ever imagine, was personally and professionally humbling for me.’’