27 Apr 2011

Misrata hospital: the grim reality 70 days in

Chief Correspondent

The director of the only hospital still functioning in Misrata says “the world looks on. Like it’s a movie. Like it’s not real. But it is real. It’s been 70 days now.”

The director of the only hospital still functioning in Misrata says “the world looks on.  Like it’s a movie.  Like it’s not real.  But it is real.  It’s been 70 days now.”

Seventy days of bombardment and a hospital designed for 40 beds has at least 100 patients.

Doctors try to save the life of a severely injured civilian following heavy shelling in MisrataOutside in the car park in a white tent, new gunshot and shrapnel injuries arrive all the time.  Teams of men are on standby, with buckets and brushes to wipe away the mixture of blood, flesh and tissue that spills onto the concrete floor.

It is rough and ready, but lives are being saved here almost every hour of the day.

Take ICU ward one, where we find three young men with appalling injuries.

By the time you read this, Sayed’s left leg – discoloured by gangrene – will have been amputated.  But that is not his biggest problem.  For he, like all three young men here, has suffered the most terrible head wounds.

Sayed’s neighbour lies motionless, huge white bandage ballooning from the back of his head.  His brain is leaking onto the pillow, the back of his skulll entirely blown away.

You wonder what kind of existence awaits these men if they survive.  But such questions cannot concern the exhausted medical staff here.  Their oath demands they are here to preserve life and that is that.  And so it is, that new help will be welcomed, like the doctor from an NHS hospital in the Midlands, who came in on our boat.

An anaesthetist, he’s given up 3 weeks holiday, as a Libyan, to be here.  They need all the help they can get.

Follow Alex Thomson on Twitter: @alextomo