World

American doctor reports on dire situation in Aleppo, Syria

Dr. Samer Attar warns that deaths will soar if vital supply route not reopened

KILIS, TURKEY - JULY 07:  Syrians who were injured in the clashes in Azaz town of Syria's Aleppo are taken to a hospital for medical treatment in Kilis, Turkey on July 07, 2016. Izzet Mazi / Anadolu Agency

Izzet Mazi / ANADOLU AGENCY

Take a look at Dr. Samer Attar’s page on Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s website, and you’ll see titles of papers he has published in publications such as The American Journal of Orthopedics; The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, and the Journal of Surgical Oncology:

“The posterior approach to revision total hip arthroplasty.”

“Examination of national lymph node evaluation practices for adult extremity soft tissue sarcoma.”

“Conversion of cephalomedullary nail fixation to hip arthroplasty: technical points and pitfalls.”

And then there’s this: “The Hell of Syria’s Field Hospitals,” published last month in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Attar should know about that, just as much as the orthopedic surgeon ought to be familiar with the 206 bones in the human body. After all, he’s been there.

NBC News profiled Attar after he returned from a recent trip to Aleppo, Syria. He volunteered to help local medics in the embattled city, working in an underground hospital run by local doctors, and warned that the regime’s closure of a key highway will lead to tremendous loss of life by starvation.

The Assad regime, trying to defeat terrorists in parts of Aleppo, last weekend severed Castello Road, the last major supply route into opposition-held districts of the city. The Institute for the Study of War reported that Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate al Nusrah Front tried unsuccessfully to reopen the road.

Attar told NBC that residents are running out of fresh fruit and meat and that hospitals and their staff are exhausted.

The entire city “is going to be bombed and starved to death … unless the international community acts,” he said.

The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois recently honored Attar for his work in Syria, which they described this way:

With just a backpack of scrubs and his toothbrush, Dr. Attar, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Northwestern Medicine, takes a plane to Turkey and walks across the Syrian border into a war zone. From there, a driver navigates him past checkpoints and sniper alleys to the underground hospitals.

Through the Syrian American Medical Society and Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Attar, who’s been practicing medicine for nearly a decade, has made several medical mission trips to help in field centers in Jordan and underground hospitals in Syria. These facilities are kept secret because hospitals and medical workers are intentionally targeted during air strikes.

The humanitarian crisis in Aleppo was also described recently by two bishops in the city:

“We do not know what is about to happen. Even last night we could not sleep, and this morning an artillery shell also fell in the street of our cathedral, resulting in one death and three injuries,” said Bishop Antoine Audo, S.J., the head of the Chaldean Diocese of Aleppo.

And, as Americans were watching fireworks for the Fourth of July, Melkite Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart penned a letter describing how rockets fell a few yards from the Church of Saint Dimities, blessedly missing any of the parishioners who were milling around after Saturday evening liturgy.

“As I am writing this, deafened by the explosions of intense bombing raids, I raise my eyes on high, to ask God to shorten the duration of this long trial, which, for five years, has not stopped hurting his people,” Archbishop Jeanbart wrote. “They are exasperated and don’t know where to turn anymore, where to find refuge; and, sadly, many of them are fleeing the country and there is talk that Aleppo will lose all its Christians.”

 

 

 

Shawn Neal

John Burger

John Burger is a news editor at Aleteia. He formerly worked at the National Catholic Register and Catholic New York in the Archdiocese of New York. He has also written for a wide variety of Catholic publications.