13 June 2008

PR# 2008-250

ISAF Medical Team offers hope to medically challenged Afghan child

With the efforts of both the Zabul PRT and medical staff at Kandahar Air Field, the young baby has a chance to access a better life by having additional surgery to correct a failed diverting colostomy. Both parents are very thankful for this help.

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan and ISAF Medical Teams’ quick thinking  and efficient care-chain have once again made a huge difference in an Afghan life by offering hope to a medically challenged Afghan child.

On May 30, two Afghans knocked at the Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team’s (PRT) door with an ill nine-month-old son in their arms. The parents were hoping to receive medical care, but they didn’t expect a journey that will bring a brighter future for their son.

The baby was born with no anus. Doctors at Zabul Provincial Hospital did their best by putting in a diverting colostomy when the baby was just few days old (a colostomy is a surgical procedure that connects the end of the intestines to a small hole in the side of the belly where it empties into a bag that can be changed and cleaned). But to have a chance to live, the infant required specialized treatment.

Zabul PRT quickly assessed the situation and invited parents and son to travel to Kandahar Air Field (KAF) where the Afghan National Army Medical Service (ANAMS) may be able to do more for them. PRT’s medical staff quickly requested an examination appointment and made travel arrangements.

June 6, with hope and courage in her heart, the mother silently held her son for the two hours convoy from Qalat to KAF, while a hopeful but worried father quietly sat beside them.

On arrival at the ANAMS, the verdict was blunt but still, not hopeless. “The colostomy has failed,” Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Fieg, physician mentor of the ANAMS, said to the parents. “We’re going to try to revise the colostomy. The baby’s fairly young, so it makes everything much more difficult. It’s even more difficult in Afghanistan because children are so very small. Hopefully, (the fix) is something simple”, added the doctor specifying that they will have to go to the Role 3 Multi-National Medical Hospital at KAF.

For Tech. Sgt. Michael Denton, Zabul PRT medical Staff, three options were open: “They can take care of the baby today; they can’t take care of the baby right now, but they may be able to in the future; or they can’t do anything. I’m hoping for the first option,” he commented in a sincere tone.

Once again, Zabul PRT medical staff, arranged transportation for the family and a consultation with Kandahar the Role 3 Multi-National Medical Hospital personnel.

After an hour-long consultation, the medical staff determined they can improve the child’s life through additional surgery to repair the colostomy.

Three days later, parents and son were about to start another journey – this time, to return to their loved ones with more hope for the future of their son. “I’m very, very happy with the help I’ve received,” said the father to the medical staff before leaving Role 3. “I’m more than thankful for everything you have done for us. I will remember your help for all my life.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/