Yemen: Surgery on the Frontlines

DNF Faculty Member Ammar Darwish shares his experience of operating in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis:

“The Yemeni medical staff in Marib sent a call for assistance as they have been extremely overwhelmed with injured patients from the war”

David and Ammar were called up by Syria Relief to assist the medical staff in the city of Marib, who were facing an unprecedented number of patients injured in the intensifying conflict of which the city had become an epicentre. The team left London excited to get back to their roots, operating in areas of conflict and austere environments.

The team arrived at Seiyun airport in Yemen, and travelled through the night to reach the hospital in Marib that was to be their home for the next two weeks.

Marib is just 10 or 15 kilometres from the front-line of fighting, a grim reality that was ever-present as the team arrived and changed immediately into their theatre clothes.

After meeting the local medical team David, Ammar, Mounir and Dr Asan Rafee had a quick tour and then immediately started working. For the patients at this trauma centre, there was no time to lose.

“This is one of the first operations that we dealt with. A gunshot wound to the abdomen in a young man who was left in a state of shock. He bled a lot and we had to do a trauma laparotomy and damage control surgery. We operated on him immediately.

David is just behind me in the background. He is getting ready to go to another theatre to deal with another case.”

After operating each day, David led an evening training session for local doctors to attend. In one instance, the day after learning for the first time about a particular thoracic trauma operation a local surgeon was faced with that exact case in reality the next day. David and the team were able to guide the local surgeon through the procedure to a successful conclusion.

The team did around 45 operations in Yemen. This ranged from life-saving trauma surgeries to complex reconstructive surgeries. Read the full story of Syria Relief’s mission to Yemen with David and Ammar here.

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