Amman hospital treats war wounded from across region

(27 Aug 2015) LEAD-IN:
A specialist hospital in Jordan is helping many people wounded by war from across the Middle East.
The MSF Hospital for Specialized Reconstructive Surgery has operated on so many patients, it’s developing a deep knowledge in how to treat the very worst injuries.

Mustafa Abdullah takes a walk around the hospital.
The four-year-old’s hip was broken in an airstrike on his home in eastern Syria last year.
Both parents were killed in the blast and he didn’t speak for days after the attack.
His grandmother Fadila Hassan al-Eisseh cares for him now.
She hopes the intense physiotherapy he’s receiving will help mend his physical injuries.
“We only wish for him to walk again. He says “Let’s go,” but he cannot. He wants to walk and learn about the world, learn about the outside, girls, boys,” she says.
Mustafa is one of 180 people being treated at the Medicines Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) Hospital for Specialized Reconstructive Surgery in Amman.
Eleven-year-old Adyan Hazem was injured in a car accident in Iraq.
And little Mohammad Sarhan is the victim of a mortar shell near the Syrian capital of Damascus.
The 2013 attack left him with severe burns and wires have placed in his fingers to pull them straight.
The hospital treats the very worst cases from war-torn countries across the Middle East.
With scant medical facilities in their homelands, travelling to Jordan gives the patients a fighting chance of recovery.
This hospital has been recently renovated by MSF and will be officially inaugurated next month (September).
For now, the medical staff are conducting a test period with the facility.
And with so many ongoing conflicts in the region, there is no shortage of wounded people who need their expertise.
Salam Rashid is one of the newer arrivals.
Her lower legs were blown off by a tank shell outside her home in Khirbet Ghazaleh, a village in southern Syria.
Salam sometimes finds life in hospital boring.
“There’s nothing here. You do nothing. We can only paint a little downstairs, just go paint and go. There’s nothing else,” she says.
The attack that claimed her legs happened three years ago but she still needs surgery.
The 14-year-old is wheeled into the operating room.
She’s given a general anaesthetic before surgeons work on her stumps.
Salam is one of more than 1 million Syrians wounded since the outbreak of the Syria conflict in 2011, according to the World Health Organization.
In Jordan, MSF estimates it has conducted around 8,000 surgeries on the victims, creating a wealth of knowledge about how to treat them.
“Due to the complexity of the injuries we have in our project, war injuries, we have developed and innovated a kind of new techniques of surgeries to elaborate on the type of injuries such as tissue transplantation, bone infection, nerve injuries, nerve graft, hand surgery, and many other things in association also with drug-resistant bacteria as well,” says Mark Schakal, head of MSF Jordan mission.
Administrators and doctors meet once a week to decide which patients to admit.
Referrals come from MSF clinics in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Palestinian territories.
Only those with a real chance of getting better are asked to come to Amman.
“As a surgeon you have to have a hard heart and a sharp knife. You have to separate between your emotion and your work,” says Mukhalad Saud, an Iraqi surgeon.
Hospital staff say most young patients have at least one symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, such as bed-wetting, nightmares or acting out.
He uses his uninjured hands to draw more pictures for the hospital walls.

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