‘We can’t tell her the truth’: Gaza hospitals overflow with orphans

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By Creative Media News

  • Trauma in Gaza conflict
  • Severe injuries, family loss
  • Lonely, injured children struggle

A month ago, Razan Shabet, aged nine, was rendered unconscious at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital due to a severe head injury, brain hemorrhage, and broken legs and limbs.

She was designated “101 Unknown” for the initial four days. It was unknown to all individuals who she was.

As of today, the medical professionals and staff at the facility, where she is currently accommodated in a tent within the compound after being released from critical care, still lack the courage to inform her that both of her parents have passed away.

Medical professionals have deduced that she and her family were apprehended during an Israeli airstrike on the Nuseirat refugee camp, from which they had escaped their residence in Tuffah, northern Gaza, weeks after her initial arrival at the hospital. Only Razan managed to survive.

Since day five, when she first awoke, she has been inquiring about her parents. “The most challenging inquiry we encounter is from a deceased child inquiring about the whereabouts of their parents,” said Dr. Ibrahim Mattar, an emergency physician at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

I responded by remaining silent and reassuring the child that everything would be fine.

“She is incredible, intelligent, and so adorable.” She is unaware that her family has been murdered and is certain that everyone is alright. “Plus, we are eager for her treatment to be successful, so we are genuinely unable to tell her the truth,” Mattar continued.

Since the commencement of the conflict on October 7, Israeli airstrikes and invading forces have claimed the lives of over 8,200 minors. The majority of those who have sustained injuries are profoundly traumatised. Some have suffered the loss of both parents, and in some instances, all of their relatives have perished. The medical personnel entrusted with their care subsequent to the incident are at a loss for what to do with them; they have nowhere to go.

Lonely youngsters who are “in excruciating pain”

Mattar stated that an increasing percentage of children are being transported to hospitals as a result of airstrikes and assaults, and that their care is becoming progressively more challenging.

“At midnight, while all other patients were sleeping, Razan was wailing,” he stated. “She was unable to rest or sleep without analgesics, so additional doses were administered.” I continued to occupy her nocturnal hours with narratives that served as a diversion from her suffering.

It has become necessary to administer high doses of painkillers to terrified, lonely children in excruciating pain to keep them quiet, but this is by no means an ideal solution. When appropriate medications are unavailable for minors, adult doses are frequently administered instead of no medication at all. He stated that Mattar is concerned about the potential health consequences in the future.

Since the onset of the Gaza conflict, hundreds of thousands of locals have sought refuge in hospitals and schools, either because their homes have been destroyed and they have nowhere else to go or in the hope that they will be safer there than in their homes.

The rising number of injured youngsters admitted daily has prompted orphans to live in hospitals.

“Our goal is to ensure that he feels secure”

Hassan Meshmesh, who was five days old at the time, was rescued from the wreckage of his Deir el-Balah home in November, where an Israeli airstrike had destroyed 58 members of his family. He spent most of his brief life at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital for almost a month.

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“Every member of the nursing staff provides care for Hassan,” explained one of the hospital’s nurses, Warda al-Awawda. “We strive to ensure that he responds positively to his treatment and feels secure.”

Finally, Mohammad Meshmesh, 54, a distant relative who helps the infant and visits him at the hospital, has been found.

An additional child residing alone is Motaz Abu-Isa, a seven-year-old who was just released from urgent medical attention. Away from his parents, he has been hospitalized for twenty days due to fractures in his legs, limbs, and hip.

Mohammad Abu-Isa, his sole surviving relative, told Al Jazeera: “He lost his family. His care was my responsibility. His daily dietary consisted of a single serving of bread accompanied by tomatoes. He awaited the conclusion of the war to travel to the UAE and reunite with his uncles. He will instead travel to that location to receive treatment. And he holds on to the belief that this will cease immediately.”

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