Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Aleppo neurosurgeon on the frontline: 'Textbooks never prepared us for the injuries we see'




 'The most difficult situation that we encounter is massacres, when many injured people and martyrs come to us at once, especially a large number of children. Unfortunately, in any massacre, over half of the martyrs and injured are children. The injuries are mostly critical injuries. You might find a child whose body has been severed in half, decapitated, one who has lost limbs or lost an ear or an eye, or maybe he is crippled because of critical injuries. Truly, these are the most difficult times for us. Not because of exhaustion, but because of emotional stress--we sympathize so deeply with wounded children. When confronted with an injured child, I often feel helpless.
 In the beginning, we saw new injuries that we did not know how to treat. Fortunately, at the beginning of the revolution and when we began working in field hospitals, there was more freedom of movement. In 2012 and 2013, there was no such thing as “barrel bombs” and there was no violent shelling from airplanes, so many visiting foreign doctors came. Qualified experts from the Arab world and other countries taught us techniques that we did not know and personally trained us in treating fairly complicated injuries. But even so, they told us that they were seeing injuries that they had never seen before in books or textbooks or in the hospitals where they worked in their home countries. Unfortunately, reality forces you to learn.
 In general, the regime targets medical facilities everywhere because it knows that they are the key to survival. Without them, life stops. The second reason [for the targeting of the medical infrastructure] is part of the strategy that the regime follows. It appears that it focuses on Aleppo, more than other locations, for many reasons. Firstly, the city has a large population. Secondly, it is near the Syrian-Turkish border. There are some Shiite-majority villages around Aleppo, and for that reason Iran has more influence [in Aleppo] and thus a greater desire than the regime to retake control of Aleppo. Medical facilities in Aleppo are therefore targeted more so than in other areas.'

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