Protesters step in to help at Bahrain hospital | world | Hindustan Times
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Protesters step in to help at Bahrain hospital

The scenes inside the hospital were so horrific even doctors cried.

world Updated: Feb 19, 2011 11:47 IST

The scenes inside the hospital were so horrific even doctors cried.

"He was shot in the head. I saw it, it was in the head," a nurse said to a group of women, clutching their mouths in disbelief. A female doctor sobbed into the shoulder of a colleague. Military gunfire sent a wave of anti-government protesters - bloodied, some unconscious - into Salmaniya Hospital in Bahrain's capital on Friday, the second time in two days it had been flooded with casualties.

The doctors and nurses had never seen anything like it, although they reported no deaths Friday. At least five people were killed a day earlier.

Orthopedic surgeon Bassem Deif stared in disbelief at the X-rays - a femur shattered by a bullet, a bullet lodged in a man's thigh, and what looked like a round bullet in a man's armpit. "I don't even know what this ammunition is because I have never been in a war," Deif said. "This is a war."

He buzzed around in green scrubs, bellowing orders: "Bring him to theater 1. I said theater 1!" Seeing they were overwhelmed, protesters who escaped injury helped impose some order at the hospital.

They distributed water and food and made sure only family members, medical workers and the victims entered the hospital's sliding doors. Others cleared crowds out of the way so doctors and paramedics could race patients on stretchers through the hallways. Hussein Mohammed, 37, was taking down names and details of the injured and missing from families whose children were at the protest.

"We have become automatically more organized after being attacked so many times," he said. Other young volunteers, their faces strained and dripping with sweat, organized calls for blood donations.

"If you are O negative please hurry up to the second floor," one of them shouted. "O negative - women, men, please we need your donations." Dozens lined up.

Mohamed Adel, 26, was on the phone telling his friends the hospital needed blood. He said he'd heard about the call for donations from messages sent via Facebook and Blackberry messenger. "If I can donate at least one bag of blood, then I will have contributed to the cause," he said.

Adel said that the barrier of fear had been broken and they were more than ready to take to the streets again. "By attacking us like this, they help grow the love of martyrdom in our hearts. Ask any of us - we are ready to die for our demands."

Outside the hospital, crowds of protesters - their voices thundering - shouted, "Down with Al Khalifa! Down with the Regime! Hundreds crammed in front of the Emergency Room entrance, clapping their hands, shouting, some crying, others singing. In a corner of the hospital and perched on a windowsill, Ahmad Mattar and a group of friends crowded over a laptop connected to an Internet router. They uploaded mobile phone videos of the attacks, the injured and interviews with doctors and paramedics. "The media must help us with this crisis," said Mattar, who works as an IT specialist. "We have to get our images out." Emergency specialist Adel Aradi, 31, stood ready to receive casualties, his entire right arm in a cast.

A day earlier, police pulled him out of his car and badly beat him after he drove too close to what had been the center of the protests at Pearl Square before the crackdown began. Police beat him with the butts of their guns and tear gas launchers, breaking his arm, which he used to protect his face. He said even though he was injured, he felt a duty to be in the hospital and offer whatever help he could.

"They are not breaking our will," Aradi said. "I am willing to die so that my children don't have to suffer under this ruling family the way I have had to. So that they can have a voice."