© Laurie Bonnaud/MSF
19 Apr 18 19 Apr 18

Palestine: MSF teams seeing unusually severe gunshot wounds in Gaza

Since 1 April, MSF teams in Gaza have provided post-operative care to more than 500 people injured by gunshots during the March of Return demonstrations.

The number of patients treated in our clinics over the last three weeks is more than the number we treated throughout all of 2014, when Israel’s military Operation Protective Edge was launched over the Gaza strip.

Our medical teams report receiving patients with devastating injuries of an unusual severity, which are extremely complex to treat.

The injuries sustained by patients will leave most with serious long-term physical disabilities.

Preparing for influxes

Medical teams in Gaza's hospitals prepare to face a possible new influx of wounded this Friday (20 April) in the latest of the March of Return demonstrations.

Our surgeons in Gaza report devastating gunshot wounds among hundreds of people injured during the protests of the recent weeks.

A patient recieves a consultation for a gunshot wound to the lower leg by an MSF surgeon, anaesthesiologist and a nurse.

The huge majority of patients – mainly young men, but also some women and children – have unusually severe wounds to the lower extremities.

MSF medical teams note the injuries include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist.

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Devastating wounds

“Half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverised the bone”, said Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, MSF’s country manager in Palestine.

“These patients will need to have very complex surgical operations and most of them will have disabilities for life.”

Managing these injuries is very difficult. Apart from regular nursing care, patients will often need additional surgery, and the very long treatment process of physiotherapy and rehabilitation.

A lot of patients will keep functional deficiencies for the rest of their life. Some patients may yet need amputation if not provided with sufficient care in Gaza and if they don’t manage to get the necessary authorisation to be treated outside of the strip.

To face this massive influx of patients, we have reinforced our capacity, increased the number of beds in its post-operative clinics, and recruited and trained additional medical staff.

Patients in the waiting area of Gaza clinic

A fourth clinic will open soon in the Middle-Area region of Gaza to provide patients with the necessary specialised care.

In response to the crisis, we have also deployed a team of surgeons (including vascular, orthopaedic and reconstructive surgeons) and anaesthetists to operate – or re-operate – on the more severe cases.

This team currently works side-by-side with Palestinian medical staff in Al-Shifa and Al-Aqsa public hospitals.

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