Two war doctors, one family

On day one of our HEST course in Erbil, Iraq, our Chief Executive Elly Nott had the pleasure of meeting two participants from Mosul. Together, Dr Basma Haqi Ismael and her daughter Shahad, a medical student from Mosul University, are delighted to learn surgical skills that will serve their community in times of need.

EN: I’m delighted to meet you both. Can you start by telling us who you are and where you’re based?

Dr Basma: I’m Dr Basma and I work with MSF. I am very grateful (to be here) because I help many people, especially people after war and disaster. Especially the people of Mosul post-war.

EN: And you must be very proud that your daughter is close to qualifying as a medical student.

Dr Basma: I am very proud of that… I always transfer what I see in MSF hospitals and give lots of information to her so she can get revision from that also.

EN: And is your mum an inspiration?

Shahad: She has always been an inspiration! I always wanted to be like her, in medicine, in life, in everything!

EN: That’s wonderful. And where are you training?

Shahad: I’m at Mosul University and training at Mosul Hospitals.

EN: There’s quite a lot of practical work on our HEST courses, are you looking forward to getting involved on our practical work here?

Shahad: Yes! I have found it was very nice to attend and gain some experience.

Dr Basma: This training will be very beneficial. The (course) information comes from many countries and can be beneficial and transferred to people inside Iraq – and other countries too.

EN: Absolutely, that’s the great thing about this course. It’s the accumulation of about 30 years of experience in various parts of Africa, the Middle East, Asia.

Dr Basma: Yes, emergency skills. I have experience of more than 20 years – but yesterday I was learning about lung twisting. It is for vascular thoracic surgery.

EN: The lung twist was a new skill?

Dr Basma: A new thing for us. We can transfer this information to our surgical department, for any blood loss or vascular injury. It’s very beneficial for the patient.

EN: So, you’ve already learned something new on day one of the HEST course?

Dr Basma: Yes, we’ve learned new information.

EN: And did you try the lung twist on our model Heston?

Dr Basma: Yes, very good. We also tried the open-heart cardiac massage. (We are) very grateful to do this training. For my daughter, transferring this information to hospitals, friends, medics, doctors – it’s beneficial for all.

Teaching model hestonDr Basma: At this time, I worked at Al-Jamhoori Teaching Hospital in Mosul. I help many people with MSF Belgium. Most of the people who come by have many deformities.

EN: With the injuries that you see. Are many of them the result of conflict?

Dr Basma: Yes, we’ve received many injured people from Mosul, but also many, many with psychological problems.

EN: Is there a particular patient that’s stayed with you?

Dr Basma: Most of the cases we receive are post-burn deformities, especially during ISIS. Explosions causing burns. Most of these patients are crying, saying I want to be saved. Always, I remember my daughter, and most of the time I am crying with the patient.

EN: I have two daughters, I can understand that. What are your hopes for the future?

Shahad: For me, I want to learn. In the future, all I want to be is a good doctor. I want to be like my mum! That’s all. She is doing very well in her career, and that’s all I want.

EN: That’s wonderful.

Dr Basma: We are so grateful (to be on this course). We want you to come to Mosul! We have heard very nice things about David – a great man. Many people pray for him.

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