BARTELLA, Iraq, April 13, (AP): A boy and a woman are delivered to the gates of the clinic by an Iraqi ambulance, bandaged and in pain. They arrive without names, ages and with only the sketchiest details of what had happened to them.
Apparently shot by accident outside their house in western Mosul, where fighting continues between Iraqi forces and Islamic State group militants, US medics working in a state-of-the-art field clinic here could only assume they were mother and son. Situated on the outskirts of Mosul, the facility was set up last December by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian aid organization based in Boone, North Carolina. Its volunteer doctors receive those with the gravest injuries from the field clinics inside or at the very edge of Mosul, where casualties are initially treated.
“At home, it’s not nearly as critical as this,” said Medical Services Director Shelly Kelly, from Mustang, Oklahoma. Kelly, who is on her second assignment in Iraq, said it took some effort to explain to her family why her new place of work was located behind blast walls. In the end they gave her their support, however. “My parents actually watch my kids and wash my laundry when I’m not there, and make meals for my husband, so it’s all good,” said the mother of four. Kelly completed several overseas assignments for Samaritan’s Purse before coming to this war-torn Middle Eastern nation. US staff typically come for rotations of four to eight weeks, often using their vacation time to serve.
“It’s really an easy choice,” said Kelly, saying the rewards are much bigger than what a beach vacation could bring. Adrian Curnow, a pediatric surgeon from Boise, Idaho, just started his assignment — his first foreign mission — three days ago. He said he was surprised at the severity of the injuries he was encountering. Preparing to operate on the wounded boy, he faced an issue common to all underage patients: Where are the parents and who will give consent to the operation? In the confusion of war, the answers are not easily found.
Curnow managed to speak to the woman and she told him, just before slipping into unconsciousness, that she was not, in fact, the boy’s mother. Following US procedure, he decided to go ahead after consulting a colleague and the patients were moved into the operating room. Both patients had already been operated on at the field clinic they were sent from. The boy’s abdomen needed only to be cleaned but the female patient was in a much worse state. A bullet had severed her spine and also damaged her kidney