‘Worrying proportion’ of patients in Gaza are children aged 6 and younger: British surgeon

Saturday, Apr 13, 2024

LONDON: A British surgeon who volunteered in Gaza has said a “huge amount” of her operations were on children younger than 16, the BBC reported on Friday.

Dr Victoria Rose added that common injuries included bullet wounds, shrapnel injuries and burns, and that she had performed surgery on many children younger than 6. Many patients are unable to heal from surgery due to malnutrition, she said.

The consultant plastic surgeon spent two weeks working in late March at the European Hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

In that time, she only operated on one person older than her — a 53-year-old. That fact was the “most shocking bit” of her time in Gaza, she told the “Today” programme.

Rose added: “Everybody else was younger than me. A huge amount of my work was under-16s. Quite a worrying proportion of my work was 6 and under.”

Injuries to Palestinians required “removing foreign bodies from tissue, reconstructing defects in faces, removing bullets from jaws, that kind of thing,” she said.

“When we were looking at some of our patients who were not doing so well, there was a lot more infection than I’ve ever seen anywhere else.

“A lot of people’s protein levels were in their boots, their haemoglobin levels were down. They are just not getting any nutrients, any vitamins or minerals.”

At the time of Rose’s visit, she and a fellow doctor, Graeme Groom, regularly heard nearby fighting and operated on freshly wounded patients as the Israeli military assaulted Khan Younis. Groom said: “As (the bombing) became closer it was a very short time before we saw the effects of the bombing.

“Just walking past the emergency department, for example, a pickup truck filled with distraught people backed up to the door with a pile of entwined corpses, followed by a line of cars with more bodies in the boots.”

Many Palestinians have taken refuge in the European Hospital, but those who have set up makeshift tents on nearby ground are being forced to move due to the need for new graves, Groom added.“Now there is a huge and spreading cemetery so that the graves of the newly dead are now displacing the shelters of the barely living.”