By Samer Attar, MD

“Where’s my mom?” a boy asked as he woke from surgery. Both his legs had been amputated when a missile hit his home in Aleppo, Syria. His mother had died in the blast. It didn’t take him long to realize the answer. Every time I have volunteered to work in a field hospital caring for Syrian patients, I witness similar horrors and come back with nightmares. It gets worse with each trip. And whereas I never stay more than a month, Syrian physicians have endured these conditions for years — many working in caves and basements under persistent siege and bombardment. Each day is the same: cleaning mutilated wounds, amputating obliterated limbs, and watching people die in overcrowded emergency rooms with pitiful resources. If we have two critically wounded patients and only enough blood to save one, we decide which one to save and which to watch die.

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