13 Dec. 2008
PR# 2008-708

Brave young Afghan girl survives insurgent attack

KABUL, Afghanistan – A severely injured Afghan girl rests in the intensive care unit at the Kandahar Airfield hospital snuggling a large brown teddy bear as ISAF nurses fuss over her in preparation for additional surgery.

The pretty young Afghan girl had her left leg amputated above the knee following injuries suffered after insurgents attacked Afghan National Police near a small shop in the Panjwayi District. A rocket propelled grenade missed the police vehicle only to explode near Marzya and her cousin as they were leaving her uncle’s shop where they had been working on the evening of November 23. Two weeks later, on December 9, Marzya’s orthopaedic surgeon, Major Raoul Vaidya, said that the present surgery is only one of approximately 25 surgical procedures that Marzya will need before she could be sent home.

Both Marzya and her cousin were seriously injured in the blast. A Coalition medical helicopter evacuated the injured children to the Multinational Medical Unit (MMU) at Kandahar Airfield where Colonel Ian Anderson, an ISAF trauma surgeon did everything he could possibly do to save Marzya’s leg according to Capt. Debbie Hynes, a Canadian operating room nurse from Kingston, Ontario.

Meanwhile, the injured cousin’s injuries were treated and he was later released from the hospital. As a result of Marzya’s long stay at the MMU, she quickly became very popular among the hospital staff.

The Canadian led MMU at Kandahar Airfield is a military field hospital that is especially well equipped to provide trauma care for coalition soldiers injured during military operations. Because of the type of wounds commonly found in Afghanistan, medical personnel there are highly specialized in treating blast injuries. Recently it has been seeing more and more of its beds occupied by young Afghan victims of insurgent attacks. Captain Hynes said that last year the hospital saw an average of three children per month while this year the number has climbed to 15. At one point in recent months, the nurse said the ward was full of children.

Children like Marzya are the future of Afghanistan” said Brigadier-General Denis Thompson, Commander of Task Force Kandahar. “The insurgents have repeatedly demonstrated a complete disregard for the innocents amongst the population. Their indiscriminate attacks have caused and continue to cause unnecessary misery for the people of Afghanistan.”

In spite of the progress Marzya has made since her arrival at the MMU, she is facing difficult challenges ahead. Dr Rick Zamora, a Canadian civilian anaesthesiologist working with the young Afghan, said that the medical team is now searching for a way to provide her with an adequate prosthesis. Lieutenant Sophie Pelletier, an ISAF general duty nurse spent a lot of time with Marzya over the last few weeks and has been deeply affected by the beautiful child. “She’s so smart and brave,” said Lieutenant Pelletier, “we can’t help growing attached to her.” Her concern is that Marzya will be able to regain her mobility, find a job and have the opportunity to be independent some day – a difficult task in light of the economic and cultural challenges she will surely face. Yet, the young girl has shown remarkable resilience so far.

When asked how she can still smile so brilliantly in spite of her misfortune, Marzya simply replied, “I am tough.

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/