January 14, 2008

Name: MAJ Gian P. Hernandez
Posting date: 1/14/08
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan
Milblog url:

Don't let people drive you crazy when you know it's in walking distance.
     -- Unknown

Part of being sane, is being a little bit crazy.
     -- Janet Long

It was snowing really hard today. The streets were wet and muddy. When we arrived at the clinic my Afghan colleagues were starting their morning report. I sat close to the interpreter so he could whisper what was being said. They were kind enough to pause during their report so that all of the information could get translated.

During the day I spent most of my my time up in the ER, where most of the activity usually is. The on-call doctor was the Neurosurgeon, and I asked him about the patient who was sitting on one of the exam tables. This doctor usually complains that I never visit with him, so I wanted to spend some time discussing his patient. I was not buying his diagnosis of inguinal hernia on an older lady with right lower quadrant abdominal pain and painful urination.

A little later I approached a surgeon who was applying betadine over a patient's calf. I asked him what he was about to do, and he said he was going to take fluid out of the calf. I gave him one of my "you have got to be kidding" looks. I thought to myself that there was no way that he could be serious. But he proceeded to insert a needle into the patient's calf and actually drew up about 40ml of cloudy amber fluid. I was quite surprised. I looked at the paperwork on the desk, and saw that not only did the surgeon get an ultrasound that confirmed a large cyst, but he had also sent part of the fluid to be analyzed and also did blood work. The assistant that was there looked at me and said, "What, did you think that we did not know what we were doing?" I felt somewhat guilty for having my doubts.

On the way home we encountered a very sad scene -- a homeless family, beggars, who sit down in the middle of the street, between passing cars. Some of them even have young children that help them out. They were there like always, but today the street was filled with slush and mud and the snow was coming down really hard. The conditions could not have been worse. It is very cold outside, and it is not like they can go home to a warm house and take a shower afterwards.

I previously blogged about a little kid with a heart defect. After learning about Operation Outreach and Baby Heart and how they help children with heart defects, I decided to write to them to see if there is anything they can do to help him out. I have kept his phone number, and have thought about him on a regular basis. I just did not even know where to begin to help him. I will keep you posted on any info that I get back. Here is his pic.
In the meantime I thought that I would give another plug to the Camp Phoenix Operation Outreach program:

Our humanitarian-assistance group at Camp Phoenix, Operation Outreach, has already sent two children, Bas Mar Jan and Welyat, for heart surgeries, and both have had excellent outcomes. We’re now raising funds to send a three-year-old boy, Atequellah, for surgery. He suffers from ventricular-septal defect (VSD), a congenital heart defect that will result in death if left untreated. Outreach has raised just over $7,500 to date; we have another $9,000 to raise before we reach our goal.

If you would like to support us in our efforts to help these two little boys, please visit , the International Children's Heart Foundation web site, and click on "Operation Outreach in Kabul".  There you'll see a picture of Bas Mar Jan, the little girl mentioned above, and some information about Operation Outreach. Click on "Make a Donation", and when you get to the "Comments" box on the secure donation page, type in “Operation Outreach, Afghanistan.” ICHF will designate the funds for our use.

Operation Outreach continues to accept new and gently-used clothes and shoes, as well as school supplies. Though children are our primary focus, we accept donations of women’s and men’s clothing as well; there’s an active “market” here in which families can trade one needed item for another. We also request liquid or powdered baby formula for the many mothers who lack enough milk to feed their infants, as well as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap.

Our address is:
Operation Outreach
C Company 163rd LTF
Camp Phoenix
APO AE 09320

Here is Atequellah, who needs your help:


I don't know which was first, the sadness or the outrage:
"Outreach has raised just over $7,500 to date; we have another $9,000 to raise before we reach our goal."
Only $9k to save a life; sincerely, thanks for focusing on saving lives when so much money is not_saving_lives here, there, and everywhere.

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