Hope for Chechnya’s “lost” youth

 

Children in the First World beg their parents for new IPhones, Ipods, and video game consuls. Many of Chechnya’s children would be content to just have some new prosthetic limbs.  

A widespread shortage of artificial arms and legs – one of the grisly legacies of Russia’s long war against the secessionists – is one of many reasons that Chechen-born surgeon Khassan Baiev decided to leave his adopted home in the United States and go back. 

 

Baiev now works around the clock to treat the infected wounds, disfigured faces, and shattered limbs that tens of thousands of Chechnya’s young people incurred during the combat years. The ongoing traffic of patients has him averaging 40 operations a day.

 

That Baiev is so busy should surprise no one, for most of Chechnya’s physicians fled in the wake of Russia’s first 1994 invasion. Baiev stayed, the only trained surgeon to be found in most parts of the country.

 

Wounded Russians got treated, too – he made a point of not taking sides. But that didn’t keep him from being a target. Russian troops and Chechen militants both made frequent attempts on his life. By 2005, he had to call it quits and take refuge in America.

 

But in December 2008, with the fighing over, he got the opportunity to resume his work. He took it, and set up shop in the shattered country to begin again his daily onslaught of diagnoses and treatments. Filmmaker Tim Tate accompanied him during some of his recent rounds and compiled this excellent video, which broadcasts now on Al Jazeera. Do be forewarned – it is not for the faint of heart:

 

 

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