WATCH | When Um Ahmad and her family fled Aleppo a year and a half ago, her children were left with physical reminders of what they left behind: the two boys each lost an arm and her daughter is missing fingers and toes.
“The plane hit us during the middle of the night, and we didn't know where to go,” Ahmad said. They’re now living in a camp for displaced Syrians in the northwestern province of Idlib.
30,000 amputeesAhmad and her family are among the estimated 30,000 Syrians to have lost limbs in the war, according to the National Syrian Project for Prosthetic Limbs (NSPPL).
By comparison, roughly 1,600 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan had limbs amputated between 2001-2015. Without proper medical treatment, that number could have been higher.
Attacks on hospitalsCare for the wounded is further compounded by the Syrian regime’s concerted campaign on hospitals. Many of the remaining doctors aren't doctors at all, but medical students or nurses performing procedures beyond their training.
A lack of experienced physicians isn't the only problem. Syria’s healthcare professionals often can’t save limbs that become infected because they lack basic antibiotics and equipment.
Since March 2011, at least 768 Syrian doctors, nurses and other medical staff have died in roughly 400 attacks on medical facilities, according to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).
The prognosis is grim
After receiving initial treatment for injuries, options for prosthetics and orthotics in Syria are limited, but NSPPL is trying to change that. Syrian ophthalmologist Anas Injarie helps run the charity, which provides artificial limbs free of charge to injured civilians with clinics in both Syria and Turkey. Injarie says NSPPL is fitting over 100 limbs a month -- a total of 4,000 since setting up shop three years ago. But for families like Ahmad's, the waitlist for prosthetics is four months.
There are no treatments here. The only thing they did is cover the parts with bandages. And that's it.
Ahmad is trying to raise money to take her children to Turkey for treatment.
But even then, it's a risk: the Turkish-Syrian border is often closed to refugees.
Contributions by Zouhir Al Shimale and Muhammad Al Shimale.