“He who has health has hope, he who has hope has everything” (Arabic adage).
The medical profession is always hailed as the noblest profession and a medical practitioner is universally seen as a savior. Doctors, often deemed as a blessing to humanity, render their services irrespective of religion, caste, or creed.
UNAMID has the protection of civilians as its core mandate, but it has also been tasked to contribute humanitarian assistance, monitoring, and verifying implementation of agreements, assistance in political process, contribution in promoting human rights and the rule of law. Pakistani peacekeepers have been providing their services to the government of Sudan in Darfur since 2007 under the umbrella of UNAMID. Likewise, Pakistan Field Hospital Level-II Plus is providing multidisciplinary healthcare services to the international peacekeepers, IPOs, and emergency medical care to local Sudanese on humanitarian grounds.
The smile of Mohammad Adam Haroon, a young Sudani burn patient, will not be forgotten by medical staff of PFH-12, which gave an unexplainable sense of professional satisfaction and euphoria to serve for humanity. This burn case is a clear depiction of fruits which hope and opportunity bear if you take the leap. Adam, in fact the eldest among six siblings and sole bread winner, was caught in a fire while trying to extinguish and salvage whatever valuables he could. The fire caused deep burns on both of his legs and heels. He was initially treated by traditional medicines but these remedies exacerbated the wound site infection, leading his condition to become worse. His parents took him to civil hospital Kabkabiya but the infection continued to spread, endangering his life. Local doctors advised leg amputation to save his life. In desperate hope they came to Kabkabiya team site where they met the Pakistani contingent doctors.
In Pakistan Field Hospital, Adam was assessed by a multi-disciplinary team of specialists including medical consultant, surgeon, and anesthetist. Judging by the peculiar location of his burns it was deduced that Adam might have had a seizure at the time of burns. This was confirmed by in depth history from his mother and a few test reports she had. Immediate anti-epileptics drugs were started to avert further damage and halt the disease progression.
Due to the rural area being far-flung, financial constraint and unpredictable security situation of Sudan, he could not avail tertiary healthcare at a facility in Khartoum. After thorough counseling and probable outcome of the condition explained to the patient, it was unanimously decided to operate and remove all dead and dying tissue.
A comprehensive plan for Adam’s management and rehabilitation was chalked out. First, surgery was carried out after one week which had an instant exponential response. The infection started settling and healthy tissue became quite evident in a few days. But as the winters arrived so did the second wave of COVID, therefore stringent protective measures were put in place barring any direct patient contact. Suddenly, the dream of the young lad to walk on his feet again vanished and all became skeptical about his future management. The affection and empathy we developed for Adam pushed us to take up the daunting task when everyone was closing their doors. We kept Adam in the hospital in spite of all sort of restrictions due to the prevailing environment and continued his treatment.
His tendons and heel bone were exposed making it difficult to have a quick recovery. But as the problems faced by us increased, so did our will to treat. A novel method of Vacuum Pack Assisted Closure was applied to his exposed tissues and we saw remarkable improvement. When adequate granulation coverage was achieved, skin grafting was done. After the special procedure of skin grafting, five days were critical as Adam was not supposed to put weight on his heels which was ensured by hospital staff and his family. On the 5th post-operative day as the dressing was being removed, so were all the dark clouds and a silver lining which appeared so thin and barely visible at the start was now appearing as a full sunshine. The skin graft had adequately taken up and there was no rejection (Alhamdulillah). Soon the wound started to heal, and it was not far when we could see him smiling. His physiotherapy started and helped him to stand and walk again. After the efforts for more than three months Adam became an active member of society. He and his family expressed their gratitude to Pakistan contingent with tears. Adam is healthy and praises Pakistan a lot. Interestingly, Adam is fond of Pakistani biryani which was served during his stay in Pakistan Field Hospital. He is still a regular mess member especially when biryani is on the menu. Adam surprised Pakistani contingent on his sendoff party by floating his wish to marry a Pakistani woman and expressing his wish to visit Pakistan as soon as his financial status permits.
He had sent me a card which read "Thank you doctor for giving me a new strength in life” in Arabic. This card brings tears to my eyes every time I look at it. And only one wish leaves my lips, "Khush raho Adam" [Stay happy Adam].
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