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Local Doctors Helping Syrian Refugees
A doctor from Symmes Twp. is leading a medical team that is treating Syrians who've fled their country for neighboring Jordan.
Dr. Humam Akbik is the chief of pain management at Mercy Health. Akbik was born in Syria but has lived in the United States since 1993. This is his sixth trip to Amman, Jordan since October 2012.
"We have kids who witnessed the demise of their family right in front of their eyes," Dr. Akbik said of the patients his team has treated. Akbik leads two teams of 32 people. Three are from our area, including Akbik, Dr. Maram Khabbaz and nurse practitioner Sondra Blythe. Akbik said via Skype Monday that treating patients has been challenging because of a lack of resources. Painkillers are scarce leaving many wounded to cry in pain.
"Every time it's just getting worse. The number of casualties is getting more, severity is getting worse, more displaced people. The resources are becoming less and less," Dr. Akbik said.
A surgeon from Dallas, Texas is part of Dr. Akbik's medical team. She spends her time performing surgery on patients, teaching surgeons in Jordan how to perform some surgeries and talking with patients.
"They will describe rocket fire, random gun shots, random attacks," Dr. Dr. Abier Abdelnaby said via Skype.
Dr. Akbik said the injuries he's seen are mostly from gunshots to extremities and the torso. As he works to help the wounded in Jordan, his wife is in Cincinnati collecting donations for Syrians who've lost everything.
"The people are getting killed there now just because they want their freedom," Basma Akbik said.
A room in the Akbik's home is full of boxes containing medications and other medical supplies. Dr. Akbik takes suitcases full of supplies with him when he travels to Amman. Basma monitors the news and keeps in touch with their families who still live in Syria.
"Every morning I wake up and I just call and say, "are you still alive? Are you ok? Did you hear about anyone we know that go killed today," Basma Akbik said. She did not want to discuss her views on the Assad regime but said she is concerned for the civillians in the country.
"We support the pure help for the Syrian people - not to anyone else. Make it happen. Make the war just end," Basma Akbik said. She added, Here I experience the freedom...the dignity and the value of a human being. This is something the Syrian people miss big time."
Since Dr. Akbik's team arrived in Jordan late last week they've seen more than 700 patients. He said he treated a 17-year-old boy whose home was hit by a rocket. Akbik said the boy's mother died in his lap and when he tried to help her, he realized he'd lost both of his arms. His two sisters were killed.
"When I saw what's going on it's beyond heartbreaking. This is your homeland, this is where I was born, this is where I grew up. It's not easy to see all of this going on," Dr. Akbik said. He added, "I would like people to understand what the Syrian people are going through."
Dr. Akbik's team will return to the United States later this week. He's planning another trip to Jordan in November.