Chicago Doctors Risk Lives in Underground Syrian War Zone Hospitals

12/09/2014
Map of Syria

They operate in the bleakest of conditions – often without electricity, proper medical supplies, and no anesthesia – as barrel bombs fall from the sky and missiles shake the ground. Many of the doctors in Syria have already fled the war-ravaged country, but a group of Chicago-area doctors are risking their own lives to cross battle lines and save lives.

"Every day was a bad day," said Dr. Samer Attar, an orthopedic surgeon with Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "I saw a lot of innocent people die, just good innocent people."

Attar has made multiple trips into Syria to fill a desperate need for surgeons.

"There would be some days after a bomb attack or missile strike that so many people would flood through the door that there would be no place else to put them except on the floor," said Attar. "With all the operating rooms full you would have to operate on people on the stretchers in hallway. We treated families crushed by airstrikes, children missing limbs, children with bullet wounds to the head, just innocent people trying to go about their lives, trying to do their best to survive."

[…] While the medical community’s mission is to save lives, NBC 5 investigates has found that doctors, nurses and healthcare workers are being targeted in unprecedented numbers, unlike any prior conflict.

"It is probably the worst country in the world for practicing medicine right now," said Dr. Zaher Sahloul, a Chicago-area Critical Care Specialist. "If you are a doctor or a nurse in Syria and trying to save lives then you are risking your life every minute."

[…] Most Syrian doctors have already fled the country. And many of the people left behind working in these underground hospitals have no prior medical training. They are farmers, teenagers, normal people -trying to save lives.

The full article continues at http://www.nbcchicago.com/investigations/syrian-american-medical-society-285126411.html#ixzz3LQqqqC64 on the NBC Chicago website.