Two Canadian aid workers, perioperative nurse Dianne Hyra-Kuzenko from Winnipeg and anesthesiologist Louis Fraser from Calgary, are part of an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) surgical team providing critical medical care for war-wounded people in Iraq.
As fighting continues in the battle for Mosul, civilians have been caught in the crossfire. Over 350,000 have been displaced since last October and an estimated 500,000 are trapped in western Mosul. There are no safe passages for civilians to flee, which leaves people with a very difficult decision: to stay under the shelling or flee and be subjected to random shelling, snipers, mines, and unexploded bombs.
The hospital in Erbil where this ICRC surgical team is at work is receiving a steady flow of war wounded and trauma cases. The team works long days to treat the many injured people who are coming in for treatment.
In addition to supporting health facilities in Iraq, the Red Cross is also providing food and emergency relief, such as clean water for displaced people.
OT nurse Dianne Hyra-Kuzenko, surgeon Carlos Ferreira and anesthesiologist Louis Fraser treat a critically injured patient. The patient's surgery was postponed because her condition was too unstable.
OT nurse Dianne Hyra-Kuzenko from Canada puts a bandage on the operated wound of a patient who was injured in Mosul. Dianne has seen and experienced a lot during her career and taking care of war-wounded people is not new to her.
ICRC's surgical team takes a break after an operation and prepares for the next one.
OT nurse Dianne Hyra-Kuzenko from Canada, local nurse Wafa Sliwa and Canadian anesthesiologist Louis Fraser prepare a young boy for a surgery in Erbil, Iraq. The boy was injured in Mosul.
OT nurse Dianne Hyra-Kuzenko prepares surgical equipment for sterilization in a storeroom next to the operating room. The standards of hygiene sometimes differ from what she is used to at home, so she does what she can to improve the situation.
OT nurse Dianne Hyra-Kuzenko checks monitors and makes sure the patient is ok while his hand is operated on. Dianne tries not to get too emotionally connected to her patients, because that would prevent her from working effectively.
Anesthesiologist Louis Fraser from Canada prepares a boy, injured in Mosul, for surgery. Louis says “the same blood runs through us all,” and that's why he decided to come here. “It hurts to see all the despair and pain of the patients.”
Anesthesiologist Louis Fraser from Canada prepares an orthopedic cast for a boy whose hand has just been operated on.
Surgeon Carlos Ferreira, ward nurse Kati Partanen and OT nurse Dianne Hyra-Kuzenko go through the list of their patients and discuss their treatment. The ICRC'S surgical team is scheduled to work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but often stay longer.
OT nurse Dianne Hyra-Kuzenko from Canada helps put bandages on a boy who has just had a successful surgery. The boy was injured in Mosul by some kind of explosive.
Photos: Saara Mansikkamäki / Finnish Red Cross
In this short video, Dianne describes her work and the challenges of providing care as a perioperative nurse in Iraq.
Training for Canadian Red Cross aid workers like Dianne and Louis is made possible through funding from the Government of Canada.