Doctor tells of hospital nightmare

Ahmed Ghanim's nightmarish week began as Iraqi national guardsmen and US Marines entered the city's general hospital, handcuffed the doctors and forced patients out to the car park. The guardsmen "stole the mobile phones, the hospital safe where the money is kept and damaged the ambulances and cars," said Dr Ghanim, an orthopedic surgeon. "The Americans were more sympathetic with the hospital staff and ... untied the doctors and allowed them to go outside with the patients." But the worst was yet to come as the bombing came closer to the city centre. "I was doing amputations for many patients. But I am an orthopedic surgeon; if a patient came to me with an abdominal injury, I could do nothing," he said, close to tears. "We would bring the patient in and we would have to let him die." Electricity to the city was cut. There was no water, no food, no fluids for the patients, Dr Ghanim said. But patients kept coming. "We were treating everyone. There were women, children, mujahids. I don't ask someone if they are a fighter before I treat them. I just take care of them," he said. Late Tuesday, a bomb struck one side of the triage centre. Dr Ghanim ran out of the building. A second bomb landed, crashing through the roof and destroying most of the facility.

Dr Ghanim believes it killed at least two or three of the young resident doctors working there and most of the patients. "At that moment, I wished to die," he said. "It was a catastrophe."


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