Our South Yorkshire heroes in Afghanistan war zone - SPECIAL REPORT

The team in Afhanistan with Madina Noorzai, 3
The team in Afhanistan with Madina Noorzai, 3
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HERO South Yorkshire Territorial Army medics battled against the odds to save a three-year-old Afghan girl who suffered catastrophic injuries in a Taliban bomb blast.

Tiny Madina Noorzai almost died in an explosion. But just eight days later was well enough to be discharged from Camp Bastion Hospital.

The volunteers from 212 Field Hospital Regiment, normally based at hospitals such as the Royal Hallamshire, Northern General and Doncaster Royal Infirmary, are stationed at the military hospital at Camp Bastion.

They have dealt with 1,200 casualties in the past seven weeks, 400 of whom needed surgery.

Among the success stories was three-year-old Madina, who was playing near her home in Sangin, Helmand, when she stepped on a roadside bomb.

The youngster needed three hours of surgery and a blood transfusion after losing a foot and breaking both legs.

Hospital staff feared she may not survive. After surgery, she almost went into cardiac arrest four times and was revived with oxygen.

Madina’s uncle Abdul Wali, at Madina’s bedside in hospital, said: “Our family had lost all hope - now we are so happy. We are so grateful to everybody at the hospital.”

Capt Catherine Lunness, from Mexborough, senior nurse in the intensive care unit at Camp Bastion, said: “We were concerned - there were a few moments when we worried we could lose her.”

Paediatric doctor Capt Abi Hoyle, aged 33, who normally works at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and lives in Crookes, said: “Madina was very good. She didn’t scream or cry and, after the first couple of days, responded well to treatment.”

The hospital is treating IED victims every day, casualties who have been shot, plus those with more ordinary accidents and illnesses.

Since deployment, 212 Field Hospital’s medics have made 45 amputations, including triple amputees - mainly soldiers blown up searching for bombs.

Lieutenant Colonel Angela Knock, a theatre nurse from the Hallamshire Hospital who in charge of the operating theatre at Camp Bastion, said: “A lot of the guys who come in, such as the triple amputees who suffer severe blood loss, would never have made it to hospital in Britain.

“They survive because of the speed of care from their colleagues and medics in the field, and the fact that when they arrive here, there are four or five surgeons in the emergency department waiting to start work. That doesn’t happen anywhere else.”

As many as 16 people in a single day have required operations during the first seven weeks of 212 Field Hospital’s deployment.

The four operating tables at the hospital have been in use for a combined total of up to almost 30 hours daily.

One of the busiest days included four critical cases - including a double amputee, triple amputee, a man who had been shot in the abdomen and a suspected Taliban fighter with shrapnel wounds who died on the operating table.

Lt Col Knock, a 47-year-old mum from Chapeltown with three sons aged 20, 17 and 15, said: “We deal predominantly with young men, some the same age as my son.

“One of the worst was a triple amputee, whose pelvis had been disturbed, potentially damaging internal organs. We managed to stabilise him and he was flown back to the UK.”

The work of 212 Field Hospital in Afghanistan has been praised by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose constituency includes its base at Endcliffe Hall.

He said: “I think we forget that it is not just those on the front line who are heroes and heroines - but also people like the hospital staff who are performing these medical miracles.”