Dr Lydia Johns-Putra looked at the trapped and bleeding man. The earthquake had brought down a building on top of him. Unless she did something quickly, he was going to die.
The 56-year-old man had his legs pinned beneath a concrete pillar and a collapsed section of a floor. It was late February 2011 and the 6.3 magnitude quake had destroyed large sections of Christchurch, killing 185 people in New Zealand’s third-largest city.
‘‘There were still ongoing aftershocks,’’ the Ballarat-based urologist recalls. ‘‘Leaving him any longer would have had its own danger of more injury to him.’’
A decision was made. Dr Johns-Putra grabbed the only tools she could find – a hacksaw, a pocket knife – and began cutting off the man’s legs, just above the knees.
In 15 minutes, he was finally pulled free.
Three years later, Dr Johns-Putra has been recognised with one of New Zealand’s highest honours…
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