Afghanistan 2012 © Michael Goldfarb
A physiotherapist assists a 15-year-old boy in the intensive care unit at the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
The 15-year-old boy first came to MSF’s trauma center in the Afghan city of Kunduz last fall, after suffering a severe abdominal injury. The center, which opened in August 2011, was—and remains—the only emergency medical facility of its kind in northern Afghanistan. MSF staff operated on the boy and kept him hospitalized during his recovery, but weeks later, in late November, he developed a life-threatening bowel obstruction, necessitating an emergency laparotomy. Just hours after surgery, lying in a bed in the intensive-care unit, he had developed a respiratory infection and a raging fever, as the team feared he would.
Before MSF opened its program in Kunduz, most Afghans in the area, especially those with critical injuries due to armed conflict or road accidents, had nowhere to go for trauma care. These days, MSF’s 60-bed hospital treats roughly 350 people each month. The MSF team performs orthopedic and other complex surgeries every day and provides postoperative physiotherapy so patients can regain as much mobility and quality of life as possible. As word spreads, more and more people are arriving at the trauma center’s gates, traveling from neighboring provinces, even from as far away as the western border with Iran.
In this boy’s case, after several tense hours and heavy doses of antibiotics, he began to improve. A day later, he was sitting up. The day after, he was eating soup with gusto. Today, he’s at home, recovered, and doing well.