Toronto, ON- A doctor was killed today by a chemical agent while operating on a patient. A barrel bomb with a chemical agent hit the front entrance of the Latamneh Hospital in Hama and entered causing severe respiratory and neurological injuries to many staff members. The gas attack killed Dr. Ali Darwish, a specialist orthopedic surgeon, while he was in the operating room. Dr. Darwish, aware of the gas that had entered, refused to leave his patient and continued operating until he fell unconscious and succumbed to pulmonary edema. Victims showed symptoms consistent with chemical agents.
All the medical staff in the hospital, in addition to the ambulance staff (drivers and paramedics) were affected by inhaling the gas which spread into the hospital rooms. The hospital was not equipped with a suitable ventilation system, nor was there enough oxygen to deal with the large number of victims having trouble breathing. The affected staff and the patients were evacuated to nearby hospitals. Moderate cases were managed while five cases were so severe that they were referred to a more distant hospital where an ICU was available.
Hama Health Directorate declared that the hospital was completely out of service. This is the fourth hospital to be put out of service in the Hama governorate in the past month due to a heavy aerial bombardment, leaving hundreds of thousands of civilians without access to the health services.
Another hospital in Kafr Nobol, Idlib was attacked multiple times by airstrikes rendering it out of service. No casualties have been reported. The facility provides 1,600 consultations, 176 admissions, 150 major surgeries and 630 trauma cases.
“It is a repulsive act to target the most vulnerable people, patients in a hospital, with chemical weapons. Dr. Darwish is a true hero and we offer our deepest condolences to his family. His courage and commitment is consistent with all the healthcare workers in Syria who risk their lives every day to serve patients. The OPCW is failing it’s mandate at investigating and preventing chemical weapons attacks in Syria. The targeting of healthcare workers must stop and perpetrators must be held accountable for war crimes. The inaction and impotence of the international community to protect healthcare workers is an embarrassment.” Said Dr. Anas Al Kassem, Chairman of UOSSM Canada