April 14, 2014

By Dr. Samer Attar

One night after an airstrike, strangers found an unresponsive boy on the street near the hospital and brought him to us.  He had no pulse and had a hole the size of a tennis ball in his thigh.  His leg was essentially trying to disconnect itself from the rest of his body.

He was brought into the emergency room, and immediately everyone played a role with precision and efficiency. One medic was doing CPR, others were putting in IVs.  Another medic used his fingers to pinch the femoral artery and stop the bleeding. After CPR and intravenous fluids, we got a pulse and took him down to the operating room, clamped his femoral artery, and placed an external fixator across his femur to stabilize his fracture. A vascular surgeon was then able to harvest a superficial vein from the boy’s other leg. He survived and he got to keep his leg.

That night he woke up and told us his name.  The next day his dad found him alive at the hospital.
It’s the everyday actions of a remarkable group of medics working together and it’s the small things like a father reuniting with his son that help keep the despair and the horror at bay in Syria.

The hospital I volunteered at was predominantly funded and supported by SAMS, and everyone who worked there knew that.  Hospitals like this one are havens that can save lives and limbs literally hanging on by a thread, and they are staffed full-time by local Syrian doctors and nurses who had the means to leave Syria but choose to stay and risk their lives to save others.

—- Dr. Samer Attar is a Syrian-American Physician

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