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​A Long Journey

Two amputated legs, his spleen, colon and kidney slashed, and a life-threatening body infection – 14-year-old Zubair’s shocking health state had him turned away by one hospital after another till he arrived at FMIC. Today he is one of our proud survivors.

Zubair’s journey to FMIC had been extremely long. 

One evening, when he was sitting outside his home in the eastern district of Tagab with his four cousins, he saw two low-flying helicopters approach. Troubled by the sight of the helicopters, Zubair immediately moved away.

The next thing he knew, he was laying at the bottom of an irrigation ditch, seriously wounded. Two of his cousins died instantly; fortunately the villagers rushed the survivors, including Zubair, to the French hospital in Tagab. 

Zubair was then airlifted to the hospital at the Bagram Air Base where he discovered the true nature of his injuries: he had to have both of his legs amputated, internal sutures inserted to hold his abdomen together and 52 metal staples in order to close the wound.

Unfortunately for Zubair, the nightmare had just begun. 

Zubair and his uncle Nasir were forced to go from hospital to hospital, from a rehabilitation centre in Kabul to Kapisa’s provincial hospital, to a medical centre in Panjshir Valley for more help.

Zubair’s luck changed when a journalist from The New York Times who had interviewed him intervened and organised his transfer to FMIC, which had both the doctors and state-of-the-art equipment necessary to successfully handle his difficult case. A complex three-hour surgery followed and finally, after a few days, he was comfortable and beginning to heal.

Each of these places turned them away; these centres simply did not possess the capacity or the tools to help Zubair. The infections in his chest and his abdominal wounds were slowly becoming life threatening.

But then, Zubair’s luck changed. A journalist from The New York Times who had interviewed the boy intervened, organising his transfer to FMIC.

Dr Abdul Jalil Wardak, Chief of Paediatric Surgery, received Zubair and was shocked by his condition: “Both legs were amputated and he had a big wound over his abdomen, due to the previous laparatomy, an abdominal incision that had enabled the doctors to repair his slashed spleen, colon and kidney. He had a high fever and looked pale and weak. We decided he had to be reopened again.”

Luckily, FMIC had the doctors and state-of-the-art equipment necessary to successfully handle Zubair’s difficult case. 

During the complex three-hour surgery, the doctors had to reopen the wound and remove the internal sutures and metal staples in Zubair’s abdomen. 

They dressed his wounds and gave him the necessary antibiotics. Finally, after a few days, he was able to sit up comfortably. He remained at the hospital until he had fully recovered.

FMIC in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has one of the highest rates of amputations and amputees in the world. The International Red Cross Committee has a record of 114,000 amputees in Afghanistan: some 6,000 new patients register every year with 1,000 direct victims of war.