Front lines

Low on oxygen, doctors battle to save 6-year-old girl in shelled Yemen city

Described as the “heart of Yemen’s civil war,” Safa AlAhmad of the BBC explains the struggles faced in Taiz, the nation’s second-largest city.

“At the al-Thawra hospital in the besieged city of Taiz, doctors gather outside the operating room to discuss which of their patients will be left to die,” she opens, explaining how Houthi rebels hoping to take control of the city have cut off all routes leading in. Lack of oxygen and medicine force doctors to choose which patients will receive the crucial support, and on the day AlAhmad arrived, “the choice was between a tiny six-year-old girl, Asma, and an old man with a gangrenous wound to the abdomen.” While collecting drinking water, Asma was hit by shrapnel and her skull was severely damaged. Doctors struggled to operate on the young girl before oxygen tanks ran out, increasing the damage to her brain.

“She survived the operation and lay on the bed alone, her thin shoulders protruding from the blanket, her hair gone, her eyes swollen and darkened with bruising,” AlAhmad detailed. “Her family, said Dr Ahmed Muqbal, had been displaced by the shelling and, like so many in Taiz, were now destitute and scattered, searching for somewhere safe to take their remaining children.”

Both the older man with gangrene and Asma died after AlAhmad’s visit.

Read the full story at the BBC.

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