Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 11 April 13 - 19, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
As told by Dr.Geert Van Moorter by satellite telephone to a colleague
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morning an American tank fired at the Hotel Palestine, where most of the foreign
journalists who are not 'embedded' with the British American invasion force are
staying. By chance Dr.Geert Van Moorter found himself on the 15th floor of the
hotel (the Medical Team of Geneeskunde voor de Derde Wereld - Medicine for the
Third World are staying in the nearby Sheraton Hotel). The following was his
description of the incident:
first I didn't realize that a bomb had hit the building itself, only three
floors below the one where I was. Then I started downstairs. As an emergency
doctor I am used to keeping my cool and calming down others in emergency
situations, which was what I did of course.
accompanied a woman who was very upset, who was in shock, and helped her getting
downstairs. Only at that moment people came telling me that there were
casualties. A man of Reuters came running with a first aid packet of medicines.
Together with him I ran to the first injured person, a British cameraman called
Paul Pascual. I helped getting him into a car and carried out a first quick
medical examination. I soon saw that he was not in too bad a state and wanted to
wait for possible graver cases, but the driver was so nervous that he tore away
at once straight to the nearest hospital. Not without taking risks as the
bombing continued. Soon we arrived at the Saddam Centre for Plastic Surgery.
This is a highly specialized hospital, but like so many other hospitals it had
been prepared to cope with an influx of war victims for several months already.
six hours I joined the work at the emergency department, helping the devoted
Iraqi doctors Dr. Mehdi Abudi en Dr. Walid Al-Dun. That is how I was able to
observe the situation in the hospital from within. We lacked a certain medicine
needed for a correct general anaesthesia, and also the thin thread which the
surgeon wanted to use for mending a cut tendon in our patient's foot. In the
middle of one of the operations electricity broke down, so with it all the
apparatuses to monitor the patient's condition. Using one lamp and a simple
reanimation machine we carried on...
is also a shortage of hospital staff, for a very simple reason: many health
workers just don't get to the hospital anymore, or they have many wounded or
dead relatives, or they want to get their families into safety. I saw the
radiology technician wipe the blood from the floor, somebody who just happens to
live in the neighbourhood carry out the work of a nurse.
hospitals have had to be evacuated because they are in the danger zones. So the
American war of aggression does not only offend the right to live but also the
right to receive medical treatment.'
was the anaesthetist's story that impressed me most. The man had not seen his
wife and three little children for days on end. They live on the road to Hilla,
in the south. Yesterday the doctor went there for a short time with the
ambulance. On his way he saw a lot of corpses at the side of the road, but
injured people too. The latter were being ignored by the advancing American
troops! One of the countless offences against international law by the US! And
meanwhile CNN goes on showing images of G.I.s shaking hands and distributing
the anaesthetist succeeded in taking four casualties to hospital in his car,
where they were treated in safety.
images of Dr. Van Moorter treating and accompanying the British cameraman were
shown the world over: Al-Jazeera, CNN, TF1, Cuban television, and VRT, VTM,
Belgian TV stations!)
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