Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Helping Hand

I watched a great story on W5 last night.

It was about a group of Canadian doctors who volunteer in the hospital in Kandahar. Yup, Afghanistan. It seems that there aren't enough doctors in uniform so a partnership has been formed with civilian doctors.
Framed in plywood, the tiny hospital is tucked away in the corner of the sprawling Canadian base in Kandahar. It may not look like one you'd find in Canada, but it does house the sophisticated medical equipment needed in modern medicine but it also maintains a very military flavour. Nurses wear side-arms and those in military pants stand shoulder to shoulder with those in surgical scrubs. And while the Canadians run the hospital, they also work alongside American and Dutch personnel.

It may look calm in the operating room. But Dr. Puskas, an orthopedic surgeon from who has pioneered new techniques in hip and spine surgeries, says "They come in horrendously injured with parts missing and parts of other people. I heard this phase recently biologic shrapnel, another person's body part as a that was something that was new to me."

Putting their own lives on the line along side those of our military and those from other countries.

It's not just the medical emergencies created by war that are challenging. This hospital is in the line of fire. Taliban rockets have and could have hit the base at anytime. But the civilian doctors didn't even think about the danger until the moment came to say goodbye.

For Dr. Puskas, it was one of his sons who reminded him of the potential. "I don't think he really understood it and as I was going through the checkpoint in Toronto to say goodbye he turned to me and he says you know is the next time I see you, going to be in a box? Because he had seen Canadians come home in coffins and that startled me because I hadn't really seen that that was sort of on his radar screen to that extent."

But its the stories of hope I remember. A healthy baby born to a mother whose face is badly disfigured from an explosive blast.

A 10 year old boy badly injuerd. My mind struggles to remember ... was this the one that had his leg amputated? I'm not sure. But I do know that he was slowly nursed back to health. And left the hospital with his grandfather by his side.

A 13 year old with tuberculosis. The disease is slowly destroying his spine and it won't be long before he is paralyzed. But a spinal fusion is performed by Canada's best spinal surgeon; a man with a badly needed skill set in the right place at the right time. And now he is already walking beter than he was before.

It makes me proud to be a Canadian. And makes me proud of my fellow Canadians. What about you?


doorkeeper said...

What a great story. I'd love to hear more, if you find it.
But good news is often ignored news.

MMC said...

d, if you're really interested, I just realized that if you go to the W5 site, the very first link in the original post, on the right hand side of the page are two video links to the actual segment itself.