Saving Soweto

It made for harrowing al Jazeera viewing on a Sunday afternoon. Harrowing, but real. I include the two clips below. I should warn that some of the scenes are graphic and disturbing.

This episode deals with the Burns Unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, the largest hospital in the world. It also, and interestingly from an Irish perspective, deals with the last days of a nine month secondment of an Irish doctor, Patrick MacGoey, at the Trauma Unit. He celebrates his final day at the hospital at the end of the second part. He is being posted to the Afghan-Pakistan border by Medecins San Frontiers.

In one particularly emotional scene, a child, Sunishka, is brought by her mother to the Trauma Unit with serious head injuries following a car accident. I was not at all used to the idea of watching a private moment, as Dr MacGoey explained to Sunishka’s mother that her daughter was unlikely to survive, but they would do their best.

As Sunishka’s heart stopped, attempts were made to revive her via heart massage and then a defibrillator. Dr MacGoey asked that Suniskha’s mother watch as attempts were made to revive her. Sunishka was pronounced dead by Dr MacGoey shortly after her mother left. The entirety was filmed. As was Sunishka’s mother and father being brought in to see their daughter’s body.

Harrowing, but real. The part depicting the death of Sunishka begins about 7mins into the first clip, and continues in the second. I can’t help but wonder if this sort of documentary surrounding road traffic accidents would have a positive effect on the numbers killed and injured on our roads each year. Where do you strike the balance?

The Burns Unit parts are equally hard to watch, with one patient showing severe burns following a racist attack, amid the general race violence last year.

You can watch more episodes at the Al Jazeera website.

3 thoughts on “Saving Soweto”

  1. I would just like to say you are a brilliant doctor, and we owe so much to all the medical staff worldwide. Watching this programme makes you feel guilty about the silly things we complain about, when so many people live in poverty.

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