British doctors launch world’s first handbook for child blast injuries

Saed, seven, lost his legs when he was just a baby. 

He was critically injured by a piece of shrapnel when he was one-and-a-half, after his family were caught in an airstrike as they fled Aleppo. 

Two of his siblings were also killed in the blast. Without specialist doctors all the local doctors were able to do for Saed was some simple stitches.

As a result, he has now been forced to undergo an operation nearly every year to shave off sections of bone to stop it growing through his skin. He is in constant pain.

Saed, seven, lost his legs as a toddler when his family were caught in an airstrike as they fled Aleppo

His mother, Summer, said: ‘When the strike happened I fell unconscious immediately. 

‘When I woke up I saw my daughter was dead on my shoulder. She had a massive head injury.

‘My only thought after that was to get my children to hospital immediately. My youngest was on my lap and his legs were blown off. 

‘My other son had part of his intestines out. My five-year old son was still alive then but by the time they got to the hospital he died.

‘The hospital was not very well equipped. There were planes all around it. They just stitched Saed up and they gave me first aid treatment for my wounds.

‘Saed has been very affected by his injuries. When he was around two-years-old he used to say ‘I don’t like planes, they took my legs’.

‘Every year or year and a half they have to open his wounds and saw his bone down.

‘He loves motorcycles and cars. His father has a motorcycle and he takes him on it. He wants to be an eye doctor when he grows up.’

Alia, 10, lost her right leg when she was four in Ghouta, Syria. 

She was injured while playing in an empty car with her cousin and a friend, which triggered a hidden improvised explosive device. 

Alia, 10, lost her right leg and was left wheelchair-bound after an IED went off as she played in Ghouta, Syria

Alia, 10, lost her right leg and was left wheelchair-bound after an IED went off as she played in Ghouta, Syria

Alia was eventually found by her mother who took her to the nearest makeshift hospital. It was overloaded with war wounded.

She was taken in for an operation by the only surgeon in besieged Ghouta, serving hundreds of thousands of people, and had her right leg amputated. 

This was the first of many operations; each time they would amputate more and more of her leg. 

In total, she had 32 operations – 28 in Syria and four in Turkey.

Alia said now that she has had an artificial limb fitted she can play like all other children her age, and children who have lost limbs should not be looked at as if they are ‘missing something’.  

She said: ‘I sat in the driver’s seat. He sat behind me as did his friend. I sat in the front. 

‘Below where I was sitting, there was a mine. My cousin asked me to switch on the engine. I did, and the car exploded.

‘They immediately took me to the operating theatre and every time they want to operate on me, they would amputate more of my leg. 

‘My leg was down to here [gestures], but after each operation they would cut more until it reached this size [gestures]. 

‘They did not have anaesthestics, the pain was severe when the operation started, I don’t know what happened to me.

‘Then after I came here, thanks to God, I improved, and they fitted an artificial limb, and I made Turkish friends. I want to become a computer engineer or an architect when I grow up.

‘Even though you are injured, at first it is hard, but you must know that you will eventually get up and walk. You will then have the determination and you get better. 

‘But if you think you won’t be able to do that, you will not improve, and you will be more sad and nothing gets done. I said to myself: if I remain sad, it will not do me any good.

‘I hope everyone who is hurt like me will not lose hope; to have artificial limbs fitted and to walk like a normal child. I did not lose hope, and thanks to God, I had an artificial limb fitted. Now I go to school and we take exams and I am so much better.’