Friday, September 25, 2009

Army medics save Afghan girls – with crushed prawn shells - Independent

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


  1. Hey Douchebag Paul Smyth, maybe you ought to take your fat head outside the wire once in a while. Actually see the fighting that's happening rather than disparaging your countrymen who are doing the dirty work and outting themselves in harm's way. Rear Echelon Mother F'er.

  2. Dear Major. I am still in the UK and I deploy to head up a new Media Ops Centre at Camp Bastion in about a weeks time.

    I haven't been to Afghanistan since 2006 and apart from setting up the Helmand Blog, twitter feed etc, I was out in Kosovo with 2 RIFLES last year, followed by a deployment to Basra, Iraq running Media Ops and since then I have been based at PJHQ Media Ops in the UK.

  3. Major Smyth, my sincere apologies. This is why I'm not a journalist---definitely jumped to conclusions in my rage at hearing of officers and elected leaders standing in the way of operational success. I saw your reply on twitter and on Yon's thread. Best of luck in Afghanistan, and, once again, sorry to get you mixed up with the bad apples out there.