Doctor on crutches: We’ll stay here

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Kholod Hadaq

He was arrested on 30/4/2011 and after he got out, he went back to his work in Al-Assad University Hospital as an Anesthetist. However, his pro-regime colleagues started annoying him, so he submitted his resignation and devoted himself for revolutionary and relief work.

He established the first field hospital in Arbin, a town in southern Syria, administratively part of the Center of Rif Dimashq District of the Rif Dimashq Governorate, located just east of Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, with the support of Syrian Medical Corps. In a basic, unfinished apartment, Dr. Abu Al-Zaher carried out the first surgery, which took four hours and was a success. He operated on a young man who was shot by a sniper in one of the demonstrations. Through persistence and determination, this success was a challenge against the war.

Dr. Al-Zaher with a number of his friends opened several field hospitals, but lack of cadres was always a big problem; wherefore they had to teach Al Ghouta women to become field nurses and let them provide assistance. They also brought a number of doctors from different regions, but they still faced many cases that they couldn’t treat, especially the neurological ones. They stood helpless in front of them.

Moving towards what’s he aspired, Dr. Al-Zaher or Sheikh (chief) of the Anesthetists as people of Al-Ghouta called him, established the first big hospital “Al Ghouta Islamic Hospital” which helped in improving the medical situation in al Ghouta.

FB_IMG_1447557149235-225x300In 31st Jan. 2013 Dr. Al-Zaher lost four of his best friends who supported him since the beginning of the revolution, and after they had been buried, he flared up and wanted to get revenge so he came to one of the battle fronts and he got injured in the foot by a tank’s shrapnel. He was taken to the hospital that he had established, but his wound got infected and his doctors decided to take him to Lebanon with a companion and under the protection of one of the factions. During their journey the regime’s factions attacked them and they miraculously survived from an ambush by regime’s forces. His friend got injured in the foot during the attack and it had to be amputated in a surgery performed in Al-Qaryatayn, a town in central Syria, administratively part of the Homs Governorate located southeast of Homs, and Dr. Al-Zaher had to anesthetize him though he was injured too.

Then they carried on to Yabroud, a city in Syria, located in the Rif Dimashq” then to Chtoura, a town in Lebanon near the Syrian borders. All the doctors agreed on the need to amputate Dr. Al-Zaher’s leg but he refused and believed that his leg would heal. He strongly believed that he needed it to pursue his work with the revolution. He communicated with the American University of Beirut and entered it with his friend where their injuries were treated and his leg was saved.

The National Council offered to take him to Europe for treatment but he preferred to go back to Al Ghouta to face death with those who stayed there.

He went back to Yabroud and stayed there until he met an officer in the regime’s army who agreed to drive him to Al Ghouta in exchange for a sum of money. The officer led him to Al-Tall‎, a city in southern Syria, administratively part of the Rif Dimashq Governorate, and then he fled, so Dr. Al-Zaher stayed there until someone offered him to take his ID to pass through the checkpoints with his brother who was a taxi driver. They actually succeeded in getting to Al-Qabun, a municipality and a neighborhood located 6 kilometers north-east of Damascus, Syria, to the north of district Jobar.

However, arriving to Al Ghouta was almost impossible because it was besieged. But the regime’s checkpoints didn’t know that there was a subway underneath them which linked Al Qabun with Jobar, so he entered Jobar and then arrived to Arbin and continued his treatment for his leg and he started to use crutches as he was not allowed to put too much pressure on his injured leg.

He, with his crutches and his wounded leg, is still working every day and treating the wounded under the brunt of the war, and he still believes in the revolution that he participated in, and he would stay with his friends rebelling against injustice. He would still resist  with his fellows for steadfastness of Al Ghouta in front of the powerful tools of war.

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