Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I got a little first anniversary shock today -- the arrival from the US of a previously unseen (by me at least) photograph taken in the operating theatre in Sulaymaniyah, where I was treated by an American Special Forces surgical team immediately after my accident.

Like the other photos that were taken at the time, it's pretty gruesome -- and reveals the full extent of the injury caused by the landmine.

I've written already about I feel when I look at the photos -- sadness mixed with shock and horror but above all overwhelmingly relieved that I wasn't more seriously injured.

So here, for the strong stomached only, is graphic evidence of what high explosives do to soft flesh.


The photo was accompanied by a copy of the journal written at the time by a member of the USSF Surgical Team. I won't give his name because I haven't asked his permission but here's what he wrote:

April 2, 2003: ....We got our first trauma last night. A BBC producer -- Stuart Hughes. The Iranian national cameraman died -- he had won Pulitzer prizes for his work on filming Halabja after Saddam gassed the Kurds. He went in with no gas suits. The pictures always shown on TV are his work. The reporter Jim Muir was uninjured. Stuart's foot was almost completely lost. We flushed, debrided and placed external fixators onto him. He will have to have much plastic surgery or lose the foot. They had stopped their vehicles around Halabja. One stepped on a mine, the others dove -- thinking artillery -- and hit another, blowing off his foot. We made BBC World TV later. He proceded through the surgery well. Good to see how we did as a hospital unit. Everything worked out well.

April 3, 2003: Debrided the BBC reporter's foot again. I was the main anesthetist this time. Went very well with a perfect wakeup in the ICU. The BBC reporters let us use their satellite phones to call home. It was great to finally hear someone's voice from back home. We got to carry Stuart to a helicopter and get him out of here. It was cool seeing the bird come in with no lights.


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