Nature Middle East | House of Wisdom

Doctors defiant in the face of violence

Injured man during Tahrir protests.jpg

The protests taking place in Egypt over the past 10 days have been largely peaceful. However, things took a sharp turn into violence on Wednesday leading to thousands of injuries and several deaths.

Clashes erupted between pro-democracy protesters, who have settled in Liberation Square downtown, and pro-President Mubarak protesters. These protesters came up close to the square and started throwing rocks and stones at the pro-democracy protesters. Moments later the sky started raining rocks on the people protecting the Square. The clashes continued well into the night, lasting for more than 12 hours nonstop and even more dangerous as the attackers started throwing makeshift bombs as well.

As rocks, stones, molotov bombs and petrol bombs rained on the protesters, surgeons among the protesters quickly set up a makeshift emergency unit close to the sieged entrance of the Square. These doctors were there as protesters, not as professional doctors, and thus had no proper equipment nor tools to treat the injured. They had to make use with simple makeshift tools to stitch, stop gushing blood, and treat serious burns.

Further away in the nearby mosque, they set up a better emergency clinic to treat more serious injuries. The mosque was divided between the newly set up clinic and a separate area to house the older women and children protesters away from the violence outside so they are not harmed.

The doctors had to work relentlessly for long hours as protesters kept carrying or dragging injured in. At one point, it seemed like everyone in the Square was bleeding. People called friends and reached out through social networks asking supporters to head to Liberation Square to bring much needed medical supplies.

Many of those delivering medical supplies in to the protesters from outside were beaten up on their way and had their supplies stolen. But what little did make it through was much needed to help people, but sadly it was not enough. Many who could’ve been saved in a fully-equipped hospital died due to the lack of one.

The Los Angeles Times recounts the events of that night through the eyes of one of the doctors here.

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