09 Apr 18 27 Apr 18

Send a message to Dr Pippa Pett

Pippa is a British doctor working with MSF in northern Syria. She arrived in November, shortly after the fighting ended in Raqqa.

Send a message to Pippa

What inspired you to do what you do?

I don't think there is really a lightbulb moment, it's more finding out where your passions lie. For me, it is the belief that healthcare is a basic human right and that everyone should have access to it regardless of where they were born, their gender, religion or political affiliation. If you can do something to balance out that inequality then you should.

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What's it like working in Raqqa?

It is different to anything I have ever done before in my career. The nature of the injuries – much like the destruction in the cities – is hard for your brain to comprehend. It is very unnatural and some of the injuries are so severe it’s very sad to see.

All we do is stabilise the patients, as well as we can, with the equipment we have, and send them to the MSF-supported Tal Abyad hospital (two-hours' drive north) for surgery.

It is very difficult without blood products and immediate surgical care but we are doing everything we can.

What keeps you going day-to-day?

It's a privilege to work in such amazing places with such inspiring people. I'm very lucky to be able to do the job I do.

Has there been a particular patient that has stood out for you?

We have had a number of paediatric mass casualties in the emergency room (ER). Because of the nature of the landmines, often it is the children who are playing around in the rubble that get hurt. One day a three-year-old girl arrived with not much left of her left leg. She was barely conscious.

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Everyone in the ER froze a little because the injuries were so horrific. Her father was there and was very calm and reasonable, but he was obviously very, very distressed. We got someone to look after him and got to work.

We all snapped into action, we all took up our places and, somehow, managed to stabilise her and send her for surgery.

We found out the next day, from the MSF surgeon in Tal Abyad, that they had managed to save a lot of her right leg and some of her left leg. This little girl had survived!

What are your goals and hopes for the future?

I don't really tend to plan very far into the future and I think it's good to learn to feel comfortable with uncertainty as it makes you braver in your decision making and it has made me happier and more free.

I want to be the best doctor that I can be and I never want to lose my passion for fighting for the things I believe in. I hope that in doing that I can continue to contribute to challenging projects to think of novel ways to deliver healthcare in areas where there is none.

What would you say to MSF supporters in the UK? 

To MSF supporters back home, please know that our work here in Raqqa city is significant. We are one of the very few healthcare providers, and with a large number of people returning home, the needs are great.

We are giving people some hope, and that is the important thing to understand. Although some of the threat has been removed it is not over. They have lost their homes, their jobs, family and friends. Everything. It is so important to be here supporting them at such a difficult time.

Send a message to the MSF teams working in and around Raqqa

Send a more general message to the MSF teams working in and around Raqqa and Pippa will be able to put it up in the office for all MSF staff in the project to see.

Send a message to MSF teams in Raqqa