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."
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
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