Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Thomas Schaefer, from Albany in WA, recently returned from Gaza on his first field placement with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). There, he treated many young men injured during protests at the fence between Gaza and Israel – including 15-year-old Mohamed.
Thomas: With all these injuries in these young men, a generation of invalids is created.
Super: Israeli forces have shot over 6,500 people since March 2018 during protests at the fence between Gaza and Israel. MSF has provided specialised medical care for over 1,800 of them. Most are between 15 and 30 years old.
Thomas: The injuries I’ve seen are the worst that I’ve ever seen in my career. I was seeing patients that were injured 9, 10 months ago. Part of them still had open fractures, so non-healed bones that were connected to the outside. I had a young patient, Mohamed, he was 15 years old. He went to the border with his friends to go and have a look. And he got shot in the leg. So he has two injured lower limbs, can’t walk, is now in a wheelchair while we’re treating him. We did at least seven operations on him. I met his family, who are very concerned parents like I would be with my two kids. And it’s heart breaking to see.
Super: Four months later, Mohamed has started walking again for the first time since he was shot. He is happy to be back on his feet, thanks to the care of the MSF team.