Navigation Links
U.S. Military Surgeons Saving Children's Lives in Afghanistan
Date:8/5/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug.5 (HealthDay News) -- During an attack on an Afghanistan village, shrapnel sliced into a 5-year-old girl's skull, almost killing her. U.S. military helicopter pilots flew her to a hospital at Bagram Airfield, where a U.S. neurosurgeon operated, saving her life.

In Afghanistan, the priority of military surgeons is treating injured U.S. servicemen and women. But when they have beds and personnel available, U.S. doctors will also treat Afghan nationals.

The most satisfying cases, doctors say, are the kids who would otherwise not get the care they need.

"Almost every case I did out there, in particular the kids, has stuck with me," said Dr. Paul Klimo Jr., a former U.S. Air Force neurosurgeon who recently left the military and is now a pediatric neurosurgeon at St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. "That 5-year-old girl was quite sick for awhile, but the last update I got on her, she was doing great."

In 2009, more than 1,000 children were killed in conflict-related incidents in Afghanistan, according to the Afghan Rights Monitor, a Kabul-based human rights organization. And war can take a harsh toll on children in other ways, says Afghan Rights Monitor director Ajmal Samadi.

"War kills their parents, family and friends. It deprives children of education, health and other essential services. It displaces children," Samadi said. "It affects their food security condition. It exposes them to exploitation and abuse by warring and criminal groups. It damages their mental health and leaves them with long-term emotional and psychological scars."

Access to medical care is very limited, Samadi said, with few pediatricians in a country in which about half of the estimated population of 28 million is younger than 15.

"This problem is very serious in rural and particularly in conflict-affected areas where doctors do not work due to widespread insecurity," Samadi said. "Afghanistan's private health-care sector is nascent and restricted to a few cities mostly in relatively secure areas."

According to the United Nations, Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world and the third highest rate of child mortality, while only 23 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water.

Abject poverty also makes it impossible for families to seek care for their children. Some 9 million Afghans, or 36 percent, live in absolute poverty, while 37 percent live only slightly above the poverty line, according to the U.N.

With many children malnourished and infected with intestinal roundworm, wounds take longer to heal or heal improperly, said Klimo, who until July was with the 88th Medical Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. He wrote about his experiences in the August issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics.

While stationed at Bagram, Klimo's patients included families who came with their sick children by bus or taxi, who'd had their cars shot at in Taliban-held territory, and who kept their destination a secret to avoid problems, he said.

Over the course of two years, Klimo and the medical team at Bagram performed nearly 300 neurosurgeries, including 57 operations on 43 children. About 54 percent of the surgeries were for battle-related traumas and the rest were for humanitarian reasons, or conditions unrelated to the fighting.

At times, the doctors had to make tough choices, including turning away patients they would have been able to help in the United States, Klimo said. While they had an X-ray and CT scan, they didn't have an MRI or other neurological equipment that neurosurgeons would have in a stateside operating room, Klimo said.

"You're not back home. You don't have all the equipment and all the personnel, especially in neurosurgery where we rely heavily on a lot of special equipment," he said. "You have to adapt, learn on the job and make do with the resources you have available."

Travel was treacherous, security tight, and Klimo's primary responsibility was taking care of wounded troops. He couldn't perform surgeries in which there was a high chance of post-surgery complications or need for lots of follow-up care, he said.

"There were certain cases that I just couldn't do. That was often a very difficult thing. If I was back home, I would have been able to help virtually everyone -- or at least try," Klimo said. "But sometimes we were full and we needed to have all the space to treat our own soldiers."

But there were many success stories, including removing a large mass from the back of an 11-month girl that had prevented her from sitting in a chair, and removing a large cyst from the brain of a 5-month old who lived in a remote mountainous region.

"There is lots of other wonderful work going on over there every day," Klimo said. "Kids with bad burns, kids with cleft palates and other congenital problems are getting treatment they wouldn't otherwise."

More information

The United Nations has more on living conditions in Afghanistan.

SOURCES: Paul Klimo Jr., M.D., pediatric neurosurgeon, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn.; Ajmal Samadi, director, Afghan Rights Monitor, Kabul, Afghanistan; August 2010, Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. UCLA researchers, US military collaborate to open center for traumatic brain injury
2. The Skin Center Medical Spa in Pittsburgh Helps Military Recruits Meet Enlisting Requirements
3. Institute of HeartMath's Military Service Appreciation Fund Gives Soldiers Peace of Mind
4. Most Military Couples Satisfied With Their Relationships
5. Raleigh Surgeon Offers Deep Savings on LASIK and PRK as a Thank You to Military, Police and Fire Personnel
6. Military develops multi-purpose green decontaminants for terrorist attack sites
7. Study Finds Military Prone to Infection With H1N1 Flu
8. Carefx to Provide Clinical Workflow Solutions for Military Health System
9. Haven Behavioral War Heroes Hospital to Offer Comprehensive Psychiatric Treatment for Military Service Members
10. First Virtual Optical Store Serves Military Personnel
11. Senate Inaction On Medicare Hurts Seniors, Military and Boomers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
U.S. Military Surgeons Saving Children's Lives in Afghanistan
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Asante, ... post-acute health care, have expanded their existing home health joint venture through an ... has been operating a joint venture home health company with Asante, delivering clinically ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Dr. ... recently contributed a medical article to the newly revamped Cosmetic Town journal ... spotlights the hair transplant procedure known as Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... ... Leading pediatric oncology experts at Children’s National Health System will ... the International Society of Paediatric Oncology (SIOP) Oct. 12-15. Chaired by Jeffrey ... Disorders at Children’s National, and Stephen P. Hunger, M.D., Chief of the Division ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Women-owned and ... 2017 Best and Brightest in Wellness® by Best and Brightest. OnSite Wellness will ... Friday, Oct. 20 from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Henry Autograph ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... In the United States, ... In some states—like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Virginia, Connecticut, and California—the ... have extremely low property-tax rates, which contributes to the relatively lower cost of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... CHICAGO , Oct. 11, 2017  Hill-Rom Holdings, ... its Aspen Surgical facility in Las Piedras, ... surgical scalpels and blades. ... confirmed that the facility sustained minor structural damage, temporary ... Hurricane Maria. Repairs have been completed, manufacturing operations have ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... EXTON, Pa. , Oct. 10, 2017   ... leader in innovative solutions for injectable drug administration, today ... of West,s ID Adapter for improving the intradermal administration ... the Fourth Skin Vaccination Summit in May 2017 by ... Team Lead, Polio Department, World Health Organization (WHO), and ...
(Date:10/5/2017)... , Oct. 5, 2017  In response to ... Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) released prescribing recommendations ... to be used as a first-line therapy to ... Recognizing the value ... White Paper "Opioid Prescribing: Acute and Postoperative Pain ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: