Accessibility links

Breaking News

Green Zone Hospital at Forefront in Treatment of Battlefield Injuries


At the Ibn Sina Hospital inside Baghdad's heavily protected Green Zone, medical professionals with the U.S. military treat coalition forces and Iraqi nationals with some of the most complex injuries. From Baghdad, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more on their life-saving work.

Inside a trauma room, doctors are examining two Iraqis injured in a roadside bomb blast. U.S. troops have brought them to Ibn Sina.

On one gurney is a man who appears to be in his forties. He has shrapnel in his eyes, which are covered with gauze and his left foot is bleeding.

On a nearby table is a slightly younger man. In Arabic, he mumbles to a translator that he is an Iraqi soldier. His situation is more serious. Doctors say shrapnel has lodged in his neck and he cannot feel his arms or legs. Blood oozes from his abdomen.

The American military doctors at Ibn Sina - also known as the 28th Combat Support Hospital or CSH - pronounced "cash" - are all too familiar with injuries caused by explosive devices and gunshots. Their expertise is reflected in their success rate. Hospital officials say patients who make it to an operating room are nearly 100 percent likely to survive.

Unlike doctors on television dramas who are always shouting for instruments and extra hands, these medical professionals work in quiet unison, anticipating each other's next move.

The two Iraqis are quickly moved to an operating room, where they are treated on side-by-side tables.

Afterward, Major Farah Husain, the surgeon treating the Iraqi soldier says he will likely be paralyzed.

"Right now it is neck down," said Major Husain. "Not a great outlook for him, unfortunately."

Meanwhile, in the operating room next door, an American soldier has been brought in. He has sustained blast injuries in a separate incident. A team of nine doctors and nurses set to work sterilizing his wounds for surgery.

"Devastating injuries to both upper extremities and he has got less severe injuries to both lower extremities," said one surgeon.

Doctors are worried he may lose part or all of each arm, as the blood vessels and soft tissue have been badly damaged.

As they work on him, another American soldier is wheeled in to the operating room and rolled on to the table next to his. His left leg has been blown off below the knee.

Chief of Orthopedics, Lieutenant Colonel Ken Taylor, treats these sorts of injuries almost every day.

"As far as experience-wise goes, with these particular types of injuries, I think the surgeons in the military are at the forefront in how best to treat them," he said.

This is a typical day at the hospital. American physicians will treat coalition troops and Iraqi civilians, police and soldiers.

No one stays here very long. Iraqis are normally transferred as soon as they are stable to hospitals in and around Baghdad. The two Iraqi patients doctors treated during VOA's visit were both moved to local hospitals within 24 hours.

Seriously injured U.S. troops are sent on to a base at Landstuhl, Germany and then back to the United States. Those with less severe injuries usually go to a U.S. base in Kuwait where they convalesce for a few weeks before returning to duty in Iraq.

But the doctors cannot save everyone. A helicopter arrives at Ibn Sina's landing pad. A medic is furiously performing chest compressions on an injured Iraqi. Medics on the ground continue trying to resuscitate him as they transport him to the emergency room. But it is too late. Inside the trauma room doctors call his time of death.