A pediatrician’s two weeks inside a hospital in Gaza

A pediatrician’s two weeks inside a hospital in Gaza

Isaac Chotiner interviewed Dr. Seema Jilani, a senior technical adviser at the International Rescue Committee who went to Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza to aid the humanitarian effort there in December:

We worked alongside the Palestinian physicians and nurses there, and we really think it’s important to work alongside them and learn from them. We were in one of the last enduring emergency rooms in central Gaza. Within the two weeks that I was there, I saw it go from a semi-functional hospital to a barely or nonfunctional hospital as a result of increasing violence in surrounding areas and, eventually, evacuation notices started coming through.

In the first few hours of my work, I treated an approximately one-year-old boy. His right arm and right leg had been blown off by a bomb, and flesh was still hanging off the foot. He had a bloodstained diaper, which remained, but there was no leg below. I treated the baby while he lay on the ground. There were no stretchers available because all the beds had already been taken, considering that many people were also trying to use the hospital as a shelter or safe space for their families. Next to him there was a man who was on his last breaths. He had been actively dying for the last twenty-four hours, and flies were already on him. All the while, a woman was brought in and was declared dead on arrival. This one-year-old had blood pouring into his chest cavity. He needed a chest tube so he wouldn’t asphyxiate on his own blood. But there were neither chest tubes nor blood-pressure cuffs that were available in pediatric sizes. No morphine had been given in the chaos, and it wasn’t even available. This patient in America would’ve immediately gone to the O.R., but instead the orthopedic surgeon bandaged the stumps up and said he couldn’t take him to the operating theatre right now because there were more pressing emergencies. And I tried to imagine what was more pressing than a one-year-old with no hand and no legs who was choking on his own blood. So that, to me, was symbolic of the impossible choices inflicted on the doctors of Gaza, and how truly cataclysmic that situation is. [Continue reading…]

Bernie Sanders writes:

Many of us are watching with horror the severe humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza. Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues in the House of Representatives and US Senate are choosing to ignore this reality and evade their congressional responsibilities.

Let’s be clear: what’s happening in Gaza is not just some unfortunate tragedy taking place thousands of miles from our shores. The United States provides Israel with $3.8bn in military aid every year, and the bombs and military equipment that are destroying Gaza are made in America. In other words, we are complicit in what is happening.

And what’s happening is unspeakable.

My staff and I have spoken in recent days with the United Nations, the World Food Programme and other humanitarian organizations struggling to deal with the disaster in Gaza.

The bottom line is this: the coming weeks could mean the difference between life and death for tens of thousands of people. If we do not see a dramatic improvement in humanitarian access very soon, countless innocent people – including thousands of children – could die of dehydration, diarrhea, preventable diseases and starvation. [Continue reading…]

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