On the evening of March 6, the control room of the AMREF Flying Doctors received a call from the superintendent of the Mandera District Hospital in northern Kenya asking for help in evacuating three people who had been injured in separate incidents of insecurity. The patients were in serious condition and required specialised treatment in Nairobi.
Mandera District is on the Kenyan border with Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the East, and is therefore highly prone to incidents of insecurity due to cross-border conflict. In recent months however, and particularly during the ongoing election period, the Kenya Government has deployed more security personnel, greatly reducing incidents of violence. The Mandera Hospital has a close working relationship with AMREF, which regularly sends surgeons to the hospital to perform specialised operations on patients in the region, services that they would otherwise have no access to. The hospital has also given AMREF office space for the ongoing Aphiaplus IMARISHA Project. Through the project AMREF supports capacity building of hospital staff through the District Health Management Team as well as maintenance of equipment and the facility.
The morning after the call came in, Captain Binny Oldenburg flew AMREF’s Caravan C208 out of the Wilson Airport in Nairobi, headed for Mandera. On board were flight nurses Anthony Kihara and Esther Moki, and physician Dr Anil Karmal.
The patients would not be able to pay for the evacuation, so this would be a charity flight by AMREF. After two hours and 40 minutes, the plane landed at the Mandera military airstrip. The patients were brought to the airstrip on the back of a pick-up truck accompanied by Senior Nurse Hassan Mohammed. Moria Mohammed Ebrahim, 53, had been attacked by a mob and severely beaten on February 27 in an inter-clan clash. She sustained serious injuries to the chest and had a fractured ribs and lacerated liver. Having lost a great deal of blood, Moria had undergone blood transfusion but needed urgent medical assistance to save her life.
Hassan Ebrahim Ali was injured in a grenade attack on Election Day, March 4, as he stood in a queue to cast his vote. The eighteen-year-old, who had just received his Form Four exam results a week earlier, had dreams of joining the navy so that he could protect his country and his community from foreign attacks. He suffered a fractured right leg and had severe difficulty in breathing.
The third patient was 28-year-old Abdi Rashid Kala, who survived a gunshot wound to the head on February 27. The attack left Abdi with paralysis in both legs and he could neither eat nor talk. The patients were loaded onto the plane and put on intravenous drips. Dr Karmal and the flight nurses kept close over watch them throughout the long flight back, ensuring that they were as comfortable as possible. As soon as the caravan landed at the Wilson Airport, the three were carefully transferred to waiting ambulances and driven off to the Kenyatta National Referral Hospital. Moria was later transferred to Nairobi West Hospital.
And thus ended another of the numerous charity evacuations that AMREF Flying Doctors conducts throughout the year to help save lives of people in remote areas who need emergency specialised treatment.