06 January 2008

6 JAN 2008 The burned children of Iraq

6 DEC 2008 The burned children of Iraq

Today brings another burned child. After the invasion, there was a decrease in the availability of electricity throughout Iraq. Most households have a generator in the home or have access to one. Of course the supply of fuel for those generators is also unreliable. There are often long lines for fuel purchase, and most of the time gasoline or alternate fuel for generators has to be purchased on the black market by illegal resellers. The child I treated today is a four-year-old boy. He was curious about the family's generator, and opened the cap of the fuel tank. There was a flash as the benzene fumes ignited. He was burned over his face, hand, and one of his legs.

He spent the night at one of the FOB's. As his face began to swell and they were worried that he would have trouble breathing, they decided to send the child to us. He was in surprisingly good condition. His eyes were swollen shut and his eyelashes had been burned off. His lips were burned and had crusted blood mixed with saliva clinging in a goo around them, but he could still speak. He called out for his father, who stood by him and gave us the details of the injury. His burns were slick with a thin coating of yellow green protein that had leaked out of the injured tissue. We intubated him and took him to the operating room.

With the help of the techs, I scrubbed all of his burns until the infected material had been removed and the healthy tissue beneath oozed blood. We coated his burns with antibacterial cream and returned him to the intensive care unit. I have high hopes that his burns will heal fast without too much scarring. They do not seemed to have killed the full thickness of the skin. Since he hasn't had too much damage done to his lungs internally, I'm hoping that he will be breathing without the help of a machine soon. He will still need nutrition through a tube because he won't eat much with his lips being as painfully swollen as they are.

It would seem that our little hospital is the pediatric burn center for Iraq. I do wish that people would take more care to prevent injuries like these. It will be safer for kids when people don't have to produce their own electricity. Also it will be helpful to have an Iraqi hospital that can handle the care of these burns. I guess a lot of progress has been hampered by the lack of security. What a mess.



Jen said...

Ouch...poor little guy! My mom used to tell me that the pediatric burn unit was the toughest for her to work on...they're lucky to have you there.

Sending best wishes to all of you there in hopes that someday these kids won't have to suffer as much.

(and thanks for the link to baladredux!)

rlbates said...

I am all for the prevention of these injuries, too. Do they teach the children to "drop and roll" to help put out the fire so less damage is done?

emergencyem said...

burns suck

Cathy said...

Oh, I hate hearing about all the burns. My heart goes out to these children, their families and to you. It also, brings back very painful memories for me.

Fate is not always kind. back in the early 70s, I had a cousin who had just returned home from Vietnam, to his job at one of the big oil companies here. One Saturday morning at 4:30 AM he was called into work. As he was walking through the dark plant he fell into a hot water vat on the floor, that someone had forgotten to cover the evening before. He was alone in that area of the plant, and he somehow clawed his way out and crawled to the security office. He was totally awake and responsive. But, once he was transported to the ER things quickly turned bad and within an hour he had lost his life.

Fight in a war for 13 months and then come home and be killed in a senseless accident within 30 days. It all seems so unfair. Certainly for the childen there, and for these type accidents that are not unique to just one area of the

I will be taking a short trip to the Hospital and wont be reading for a few weeks, but I will catch up as soon as possible.

When do you leave there?

Chris said...

Dear Jen, RLBates, Emm, Cathy,

I agree. I said I never wanted to work on burns again after leaving the pediatric burn center, but here I am. Clearly there needs to be a lot of safety lessons taught, but probably first the bullet problem has to be solved. I'm sorry to hear about your cousin, Cathy, I expect it was a terrible blow for your family. I am not allowed to discuss when I'm returning more specifically than "soon" :)

Be well,


David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 01/07/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.