In the operating room: Yemen, Day 15

School is out for the summer in Yemen, but the cholera outbreak and ongoing civil war show no signs of slowing down. Anesthesiologist Kariantti blogs from Khameer...


Schools have ended for the holidays in Yemen, which is good - because now we can use a school nearby as a Cholera Treatment Center.

Yes, you guessed it, there is no sign of the cholera epidemic slowing down. Quite the opposite.
So far we have received 216 patients altogether, many of them arriving in a state of shock.
We are constantly in shortage of beds for them, but now in the school we will have up to 100 beds. This will be a great improvement, but it has taken a lot of resources and meant long nights for the team working on it.
But we still have a long way until the school will be ready to receive cholera patients. For now we will have to make do with tents.

Child patients

Days are getting slower in the operating theatre, and the intensive care unit was even empty for a few hours.
It seems that people are perhaps avoiding the hospital in fear of cholera. But yesterday it all changed.
We received three new patients with gunshot wounds, most of them children.
One was a seven-year-old girl, shot in the abdomen. She was operated last night and she had multiple perforations in the bowel, which Dr. Ali was able to close.
Today she was already somewhat better.
But the ICU was full again as well as the female IPD, because we had also received many other emergency cases. So now, it was us who were running out patient beds.
After some negotiating we were able to arrange a bed for one patient in another ward.

Battle to save the girl

The next day continued the same, as we received three new gun shot victims and once again we had to decide which patient in the intensive care unit was stable enough to manage in a normal ward to make room for the more serious cases.
To make matters worse, the small two-year-old girl with a gunshot wound to her abdomen was having problems - her sutures had ruptured so we needed to take her to the operating theatre to fix it.
Thankfully she was otherwise stable and needed only one night in Intensive Care.
This was not her only problem though - part of the bowel that she had left before the stoma was very short, and she was passing her food straight through without digesting it properly.
We tried to find everything to increase the energy and nutrients in her food, but still we feared that in the long run she might be facing starvation before the surgeons could do the final repair of her bowel.