British doctors who worked at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in… Gaza strip There they saw the worst injuries of their careers, and were often forced to treat the wounded without medical equipment.
The doctors who were able to enter the Gaza Strip and work in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital for two weeks recounted their working conditions under the weight of the Israeli bombing, and the horrific injuries that arrived at the hospital, most of whom were children and women.
The British doctors entered Gaza at the initiative of the International Rescue Committee and the Medical Aid for the Palestinians platform. They are Professor Dr. Nick Maynard, Dr. Deborah Harrington, and Dr. James Smith. They worked in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital from the end of December 2023 until the ninth of January 2024.
“Injuries I never expected to see in my life.”
Dr. Maynard, who works as a surgeon in Oxford, Britain, said that he and his colleagues arrived in Gaza from the Rafah crossing, after a full-day trip, and that he began work on December 25.
He explained that the first thing that caught their attention, after crossing from the Rafah border crossing into Gaza, was the large number of displaced people who crowded the place. He said, “We saw hundreds of carts drawn by donkeys full of people and goods.”
Maynard indicated that he had been participating in online meetings with doctors present in Gaza since the beginning of the Israeli war on the Strip, and he was preparing himself for what he would see after entering the Strip, but what he saw was much worse than he expected, and he said, “I saw in Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital the most horrific injuries that “I never expected to see it in my professional life.”
Maynard stated that he and his colleagues saw many children with fatal burns, some of whom had their limbs amputated, and some who suffered fatal injuries in the chest and abdomen. They were forced to perform medical interventions on injured people while they were lying on the ground. He said that Gaza was hell.
Surgery on the ground
Regarding hospital conditions and the lack of medicines and medical equipment, Maynard said, “The capabilities in the operating rooms were limited, and sometimes there was no water. We cleaned our hands using only alcohol-based materials. We lacked equipment and clothing. On some days, we did not have painkillers to use.” Treating children with serious burns or who have had their limbs amputated.”
He continued, “I saw a 6-year-old boy lying on the floor in the emergency room. There were not enough doctors to care for him, and no one from his family was with him. He was suffering from very painful burns and open wounds in the chest. We immediately took him to the recovery area.” “Since there were not enough beds or stretchers, we carried out the necessary medical intervention on the ground.”
The British doctor accused Israel of systematically targeting Gaza residents and health care facilities in the Strip.
He said that Gaza could regain its health if the whole world worked together and forced Israel to cease fire, and that the international community should support reconstruction efforts in Gaza in the post-war phase.
For her part, obstetrician Deborah Harrington commented on the situation in the hospital by saying, “I cannot explain how scary it was. There are people who need medical care not only in the hospital building, but around it as well.”
Harrington stated that tents were set up around the hospital, which was crowded with wounded children, which left a deep impression on her.
“A very large number of children were arriving with serious burns, amputations, and horrific injuries, and hospital equipment was insufficient for such a large number,” she said.
She said, “Most of the cases that arrived at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital were extremely terrible. The hospital's existing capabilities were not able to deal with this level of serious cases. The hospital's capacity was 300%. There were people waiting for treatment everywhere, most of them with injuries.” “Dangerous. In addition, there were relatives of patients and displaced people. There was not a single inch of the hospital empty of people.”
Harrington stressed the need to stop the war to put an end to what is happening in the Gaza Strip.
“Injuries the likes of which I have never seen before.”
In turn, emergency physician James Smith, who worked in several areas witnessing conflicts and crises, said that he was part of a medical team consisting of 9 people working in Gaza.
Smith pointed out that the emergency department, which is the most equipped department in the hospital, was having difficulty accommodating the large number of injured and patients arriving there.
He pointed out that many of the hospital workers are Palestinians employed in the Palestinian health care sector, and some of them were displaced to it from other hospitals.
He said that the hospital lacked most basic medical supplies, and continued, “One day we ran out of gauze that we used to bandage wounds, and the next day we ran out of morphine, which we used for people suffering from serious pain. I have worked for many humanitarian organizations and seen patients in many “Conflict zones for years, but I have never seen traumatic injuries of this magnitude and severity. Gaza was truly the biggest event I have ever experienced.”
Smith concluded his talk about his observations in Gaza by noting that he witnessed many cases arriving at the hospital with fatal injuries, including serious burns that dissolved skin, muscles and bones, and he witnessed many injuries that included horrific amputation of organs.
The Israeli army has continued its aggression against the Gaza Strip since the seventh of last October, and the devastating war has led to the death of 24,927 Palestinians and the injury of 62,388 others, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.