Rubina's Journey - from earthquake victim to treatment

 

Rubina is seven years-old. She was caught by falling rubble when last week's earthquake hit Nepal. Her legs and pelvis were crushed and fractured.

 
 

During a post-earthquake inspection of local schools for Splash (www.splash.org), Ritesh Adah found Rubina and her parents in a classroom where they'd been staying since the earthquake. Rubina had received very basic medical attention but despite her severe injuries, local hospitals did not have the capacity to treat her more fully for at least a week.

Breaks to both legs can be seen in her x-ray.

 
 

The following day, when I accompanied Ritesh to document the damage done to Splash installations in Kathmandu, he took me to the school where Rubina and her family were staying.

Rubina was sleeping most of the time.

 
 

But when she woke, the effect of the pain was clear to see - and hear .

 
 

Seeking advice on the best course of action, Ritesh and I took the x-rays to a Mercy Malaysia field-hospital, just outside Kathmandu.

I've learned this week that broken bones don't kill. It's the resulting infection and other complications that can be life-threatening.

Doctors advised that Rubina be brought to them as soon as possible.

 
 

It was clear that her right leg had become twisted at the hip and we still did not know what internal injuries she might have sustained.

This morning, Ritesh was able to arrange for an ambulance to take Rubina to the Sushma Koirala Memorial Hospital in Sankhu.

Having spent over a week on the classroom floor, Rubina was understandably scared at the prospect of being moved.

 
 

Eventually, with assistance from Ritesh, the paramedic was able to transfer her to the ambulance.

 
 

Understandably, Rubina didn't want to let go of her mother's hand.

 
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Rubina hadn't seen bright sunlight for nearly a week.

 
 

She held her grandmother's hand all the way out of Kathmandu until we reached the hospital.

 
 

Doctors from the hospital were joined by volunteer orthopaedic and paediatric surgeons from Mercy Malaysia.

 
 

Very soon, Rubina was inside a treatment room for an initial assessment.

 
 

From there, doctors took her quickly for new x-rays.

 
 

After the x-rays, Rubina was moved to a Recovery Room for sedation before a more thorough examination in the Operating Theatre. She was clearly still in a lot of pain and discomfort.

 
 

The official death toll in Nepal exceeded 7,000 today with many more injured. Rubina's case is one of many, many thousands.

Volunteers at the Mercy Malaysia Field-Hospital have treated up to 250 patients each day since the earthquake. Doctors and nurses at the nearby Sushma Koirala Memorial Hospital have been working day and night to cope with the influx of patients.

Eventually sedated, Rubina drifted in and out of sleep. She will have surgery to repair her broken bones tomorrow and there's a good chance that, in time, she will be able to walk again.

 
 

All across Nepal, other international teams continue to treat patients and save lives.

Rubina benefitted from the expertise, dedication and professionalism of the doctors from Mercy Malaysia who have flown into the disaster zone voluntarily. They really were excellent and it's so reassuring that Rubina and many others like her are now in their expert care.

Thank you to orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Shue, paediatric surgeon Dr. Lai and all their impressive colleagues at Mercy Malaysia, together with Medical Director Dr. Jaswan Shakya and his generous staff at the Sushma Koirala Memorial Hospital, the anaesthetist, ambulance driver, paramedic and all the people who collaborate to provide essential care to patients. Thanks also to Farah Ali who made an important connection after seeing an Instagram photo I posted earlier in the week. Thanks also to Ritesh, his friends and colleagues at Splash for their pro-active approach to helping Rubina in what might literally have been a life-saving mission.