Friday, September 25, 2009
Kim Sengupta reports from Helmand
It was early on a summer's morning in Nad-e-Ali, and Amina and Guldasta had run outside to play. They were not to know that the Taliban had laid an explosive device at their favourite spot, a field nestling beside a meadow.
The explosion tore into the two sisters, inflicting dreadful injuries. Eight-year-old Amina's leg was almost severed; Guldasta, a year older, received serious injuries from spraying shrapnel.
The girls' family lived just outside Nad-e-Ali, a part of Afghanistan's Helmand province which had seen ferocious fighting for a prolonged period and a place where medical facilities were, at best, rudimentary.
The sisters were saved from having their legs amputated – and probable death – by a remarkable combination of crushed prawn shells and the ingenuity of British Army medics. The technique is just one of a range of innovations that the doctors there have come to rely on. Faced with a weekly influx of horrific casualties, their improvised and revolutionary procedures are now being adopted internationally for civilian trauma treatment.
"The circumstances in Helmand mean that we are seeing many more severe trauma patients than in most UK hospitals," says Lieutenant General Louis Lillywhite, the Surgeon General of the UK armed forces. "And we have had to learn fast. What we have learned has been useful to the NHS."
For the full story click here for the Independent website