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Scenes from a Bahrain hospital

21st February 2011

Bahrain's hospitals were overwhelmed with the injured following the armed crackdown on demonstrators in recent days.

heart surgery

Medical staff were reduced to tears, while protesters stepped in to help with the flood of injured after police opened fire on unarmed demonstrators.

Doctors were crying at the sight of the gunshot wounds to the heads of the patients being brought in, clutching colleagues for emotional support in the emergency department.

Salmaniya Hospital was flooded with casualties, some bloodied, some unconscious, after military gunfire raked the city's Lulu square for the second time in two days.

While no deaths were reported on Friday, doctors and nurses expressed shock at the injuries they were seeing, many for the first time.

At least five deaths were reported at the hospital a day earlier.

One orthopaedic surgeon, Bassem Deif, was baffled by the x-rays up on his screens of a femur shattered by a bullet, a bullet in a man's thigh and a round object in a man's armpit.

Deif said he had never worked in a war-zone, and had little experience with different sorts of ammunition.

His patients were often wheeled to the operating theatre with the help of uninjured protesters, who helped keep the flow of patients moving.

They also gave out food and water, and prevented anyone but family members, healthcare workers and patients got in through the emergency department's doors.

They cleared the corridors of people to make way for doctors and paramedics to rush patients to the operating tables.

One protester, Hussein Mohammed, was helping to take the names of those injured and missing in the turmoil.

He said the protesters had become more organised since the last military attack on the demonstrations.

Some were organising campaigns for donated blood as doctors ran out of stocks of O negative blood.

Anyone offering that type of blood was hurried upstairs to a hastily set up donation room.

Others phoned their friends to ask them to come in and give blood. Some who showed up at the hospital to donate had heard about the call for blood via the social networking site Facebook.

Many ordinary people saw blood donation as a valid way to contribute to the protesters' cause.

Many felt ready for further demonstrations after visiting the hospital.

Thousands of protesters thundered slogans to bring down the government as the medical teams raced to treat victims of the shootings.

Many were packed in close to the doors of the emergency room, shouting, singing and clapping their hands.

Some used the hospital's internet connection to upload photographs and videos of the crackdown, along with interviews with doctors and medical staff.

Some medical staff were themselves injured after falling foul of the security forces.

Emergency specialist Adel Aradi was working with his right arm in a cast following a police beating when he drove too close to the demonstrations.

He said they broke his arm with the butts of their guns after he threw it up to protect his face.

But he said the injury would not deter him from his work at the hospital.


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