My son Nazar was working with a small American military unit in Baghdad as a contractor after the 2003 war in Iraq, he was always very friendly and greatly respected by his employers. On the morning of the 29th of March, 2004, he was mistakenly shot by an American soldier from the unit he was working with, the bullet he received caused multiple injuries to the various structures in his left loin, he was operated in a make shift hospital at the site which was a very inadequate surgery because few hours later he had a massive bleeding from his badly damaged left kidney. Nazar was transferred to the American military hospital in the green zone where he had his damaged kidney with other nearby structures removed after a major operation which lasted 7 hours and required 28 pints of blood. He was recovering nicely, but few days later his remaining kidney started to fail which mandated a kidney dialysis, the American hospital did not have a dialysis machine so he was sent to a nearby Iraqi hospital to have the procedure done which was a complete failure, after which he had a heart attack which lasted for 14 minutes which resulted in a very severe brain damage because of the deprivation of oxygen to the brain during the attack [vegetative state]. He was discharged from the American hospital after six weeks still in an extremely serious condition when we had to take him home and started ourselves the very complex 24 hours a day care his condition required all the time praying and hoping for a miracle. But there was no miracle and after a nightmare which lasted more than 8 years, my son died in Michigan few days before the last Christmas.
Our son's struggle for his life was a terrible nightmare, it plunged us into a long period of unimaginable stress and grief but I always wanted to tell it to as wide-ranging and a compassionate audience as possible, telling the story is cathartic and a very good psychotherapy, it allows me to vent out my worries and tensions, and because there has been during our 8 years nightmare immensely useful lessons in the meaning of love friendship and giving, so I have abridged the 8 year long story into a three part dissertation which I am going to post in this blog.
The following is the first part of the abridged form of the Hanoudi tragedy.
It was about 2:30 PM, I entered my house in Baghdad and the phone was ringing, a young man said he was a translator to the military unit my son Nazar was working with, he told me that Nazar had fallen from a ladder when he was doing some minor repair to the ceiling of one of the rooms of the complex his unit was occupying, he said Nazar has injured his ankle when he fell down but it was a minor problem and nothing to worry about and that I could go and see him if I wanted to. I took a small bite of food and ran [in my car] the fifteen minutes distance to my daughter’s house picked up my son in law and started the one hour journey to where my son was working. The area was called ul-Rustamia, it was located east-westerly on the outskirts of the city, it was home during the days of Saddam to one of his largest military compounds, there was an officers college a staff college and a huge hospital which catered for the air force personnel and their families. The area also housed a large number of military units and their equipment and residential areas for the officers and the enlisted, it was a small city which was now home for a large contingent from the occupying forces and my son's unit occupied a very small niche of it, my son’s unit was a small entity inside the camp which was now encompassed inside a high wall which was made of huge blocks of reinforced concrete completely 10 feet high sealing the camp which was punctuated by several entry points which were called check points, these were heavily guarded posts making entry to the camp a very difficult and frustrating and time consuming undertaking, but we were helpless. I arrived at the camp with my son in-law about 4:00 PM and waited at the check point to be allowed to enter.
We were kept at there for more than an hour before we were able to proceed into the camp, the soldiers who were controlling the movements across the check point were young, they didn’t speak our language and these young men were very clearly under strict orders to be alert to anything suspicious, by that time the situation in the country was extremely poisoned and the relations between the Americans and the Iraqis were very tense to say the least. We were asked a lot of questions we and a small bag we were carrying were searched and ordered to wait in the meantime they were talking to people inside in the camp which I assumed were my son's employer’s and we waited for a little more than one hour and then a young American came towards me, he said his name was Gandhi a sergeant in my son’s unit he was a friend of Nazar and he told me during our walk from the check point that my son's problem was not falling from a ladder my son was shot by an American soldier, he was operated in the hospital here and he was taking me to see him there and what they show me something was anything but a hospital. It was a small area the remaining of the kitchen of the old hospital which has evidently received very severe pounding during the early days of the recent war. It was very clear that the whole setup was established in a hurry without even the basic requirements of a hospital, but I did not worry about that at that time I was in a great hurry to see my son and find out what had happened to him.
We came into a narrow corridor to the left of which was a fairly large room which they said was the operating room but they did not allow me into and adjacent to it was a another narrow area about 3 meters by 6 which they said was the ICU which did not look like an ICU at all and there my son was lying on a stretcher still not fully recovered from the anesthetic. Nazar recognized me but was unable to respond to my questions and beside him was a young American soldier who was watching his recovery, he was very kind and compassionate, he was trying to comfort me and suggested that I better leave my son, he would take care of him and I could come and see him tomorrow. When we left the ICU! we came back to the area when we first entered went into the Hospital, there were a lot of people there, there was a fairly young man, he was dressed very peculiarly with a band on his forehead the thing Tennis players wear, but he was behaving even more strangely and bizarrely he told me in a way typical of people who were less than good at their work that he was the surgeon who had operated on my son in the morning, everything was perfect and that I should leave the facility I was becoming a distraction. In that limited space there was also a group of six army personnel one of them was big and heavy who was carrying few papers who looked like the leader of the group, he was asking questions and giving orders, sergeant Gandhi told me that the big man was an officer who was investigating the shooting of my son, I asked him a question or two about the incident but he did not bother to answer me and went on with his investigation.
I went outside and sat on a bench near the entry to the facility, few minutes later Gandhi came to me and said your son's condition seems to be stable you have been through a lot today, go home and take some rest, the young medic is very good and he is doing fine, come back tomorrow at 8 AM. We meet at the check point to take you to your son. Next day I was at the check point at exactly 8 in the morning expecting to be able to see my son without prior's day hassles, but there was no sergeant Gandhi, there was a new batch of soldiers at the check point who knew nothing about my son and I had to into the same rigmarole. They were talking on the phone and they asked dozens of questions. I was searched twice and was kept waiting a gain for more than an hour, finally a soldier came from inside the camp and told me that my son had a very severe bleeding last night from yesterday’s surgery, he was sent in a helicopter as an emergency to the American hospital in the green zone, the 31st Combat Support Hospital, you should be able to see him there.
Friday, August 31, 2012