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Pakistan: a lucky escape

21-08-2008 Feature

Life is precious. Tajir Hussain and his family know just how precious. His life was ebbing away as he lay in a deep coma. Then he recovered miraculously just when all hope seemed lost. The ICRC’s Sitara Jabeen reports.

His tragedy began at a political rally in February 2008, a mere ten days after his marriage, when a blast went off, leaving him with multiple injuries. Tajir Hussain is 30 years old. He comes from Para Chinar, in Kurram Agency, a region bordering Afghanistan and worst-hit by sectarian violence.

Tajir is one among countless casualties of armed violence. Since last year a series of clashes has claimed hundreds of lives. With major roads closed months ago, transport is a serious challenge for the people in the region. It therefore took Tajir several days to reach the ICRC hospital in the provincial capital, Peshawar. When the ICRC admitted him in March Tajir was severely injured, weak and suffering from shock and trauma.

Because of the prolonged delay before he received treatment, Tajir had a cardiac arrest, which caused him brain damage and resulted in a coma. He lost his speech and an awful lot of weight and, to stay alive, he was fed intravenously for about a month.

It was the darkest hour in Tajir’s life and all hope seemed lost. Tajir is young, and has lived a healthy, yet, tough life in a region where basic necessities are hard to get. Inhabitants of the border region are known for their stamina and strong physique. But not even they can withstand an attack with deadly weapons.

His two brothers, Tahir and Jabir Hussain have remained with him since his accident, caring for him tirelessly while his health deteriorated. Keeping vigil at his bedside, Tahir and Jabir attended to Tajir when he went into seizures while unconscious.

Dr. Diego Cornaldesi of the ICRC, who is supervising Tajir’s treatment, said, " it is very important to be clear about a patient's health to the people accompanying him. I had told his brothers that although I would keep Tajir to give him whatever chance there was, the probability of his survival was very remote " .

His brothers were ready to take him back home, not to improve his chances of survival but, rather, to allow him to die surrounded by his loved ones. Then the miracle happened.

Tajir came out of his coma, and slowly began recognizing his brothers and doctors. They were ecstatic. It was a most pleasant surprise to see Tajir begin to recover. Life becomes even more valuable if you have been snatched from the jaws of death.

His recovery has greatly motivated the medical staff looking after him and been a blessing to his brothers. The care and attention he has been receiving have enabled Tajir to gradually resume a normal diet. He can move his uninjured leg and both arms. He responds if his name is called and has also started uttering a few words.

Doctors consider Tajir Hussain’s recovery exceptional. He is a symbol of hope in situations that appear hopeless.

Some patients succumb to their weapon wounds because they do not reach hospital in time. It is difficult to determine the number of victims of weapon injuries who lack access to medical facilities. Few weapon-wounded people who have the type of close brush with death that Tajir did survive their ordeal. Victims’ survival hinges on their access to medical facilities. We all have a role to play in ensuring such access. Human life is precious and deserves all the effort we can make to preserve it.