Middle East Disaster Response - 080703 International Crisis Response

Rescued from the Rubble

Kaan* stopped, closed his eyes, and let the tears stream down his cheeks. The story he was sharing with Samaritan’s Purse staff had already revealed unimaginable grief.

Damla was visited by her husband and sons as she recovers at our hospital.

Damla was visited by her husband and sons as she recovers at our hospital.

He said he heard his wife scream from underneath rubble. They got her out, but then he spent nearly all of their savings on cab rides to different medical facilities—only to be told most doctors had died in the earthquake.

Finally, he told us the moment hardest for him to relive. “My wife didn’t recognize me,” he said. “She didn’t know who I was. She didn’t know I was her husband.”

Kaan said that was the instant when he realized just how sick his wife, Damla, really was—and he had no way to help her.

He looked over at her now resting in the intensive care unit at the Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital in Antakya, Turkey. Only a few days before, he’d feared she would die.

Damla arrived at our hospital about eight days after the earthquake and she was in acute renal failure. Her legs had been crushed and she’d been trapped under rubble for nine hours after their apartment building collapsed. Damaged muscle tissue released proteins into her bloodstream, overwhelming her kidneys.

“If you can dialyze her, she can survive. If you can’t, she gets acidotic and she dies. And she was right on the edge,” Dr. Jim Brown explained. Dr. Brown had served for 15 years at Mbingo Hospital in Cameroon. “We did peritoneal dialysis four times a day, for four days, which allowed her creatine and potassium levels to come down. In the meantime, her kidneys were healing.”

If you are interested in joining our DART roster to be a part of these types of disaster responses, click here to apply.

Damla is cared for by our staff after dialysis to help heal renal failure.

Damla is cared for by our staff after dialysis to help heal renal failure.

We praise God that the procedure brought Damla back from the brink of death. Kaan couldn’t stop thanking Dr. Brown and our medical team who saved his wife’s life. “I cried when I saw you guys. You’re hard workers. One person is doing the job of 10 people,” he said. “A team like this is awesome.”

Our team also provided care for Kaan, who had open wounds that were badly infected and a broken collarbone from a wall collapsing on him. But he wasn’t worried about the pain—he was too focused on caring for his wife. “The pain in my heart is greater than my physical pain,” he said.

The couple is also grieving the loss of their teenage son killed in the deadly February temblors.

Their other two sons have been sleeping in a car near the hospital so they can visit their mother.

Damla still isn’t speaking much but the family knows that she is getting closer every day to recovery.

“I am so grateful,” Kaan said to our staff. “I am so blessed to meet you.”

Changing Lives Through Compassionate Care

To date, the Samaritan’s Purse team has seen more than 2,600 patients and performed more than 100 surgeries.

Hazal came into our hospital with an injured wrist that required surgery.

Hazal came into our hospital with an injured wrist that required surgery.

Hazal* came in for hand surgery after she spent four hours under rubble waiting for rescue. She got stuck in the stairwell trying to escape her third-floor apartment.

Hazal, like so many earthquake victims, is grieving the loss of family members. Her husband, a son, two grandsons, a daughter-in-law, and a number of other relatives died during the earthquake. Her husband, a truck driver, was the family’s sole provider, and she doesn’t know how they will make ends meet without him.

Ada* is another surgical patient who desperately needed help. She was injured in an earthquake that struck about two weeks after the first ones on Feb. 6. Ada was outside enjoying tea in her garden.

“A wall in the garden collapsed on my head. I lost my balance and fell down,” she said. “It was like a spontaneous explosion happened.”

Ada received surgery for a leg injury.

Ada received surgery for a leg injury.

Ada remembers very little about what happened after. At one point, she briefly regained consciousness during the hour ride to the hospital. “It felt like my leg was gone. The ride was so long.”

Her sister, Esila,* knew something was wrong when Ada didn’t answer the phone. The sisters are close and talk several times a day. Esila rushed to the hospital to be with Ada as soon as she found out what happened.

The hospital was unable to help because of limited personnel, and Ada was referred to the Samaritan’s Purse facility.

“I wish it hadn’t happened to her—I wish it had happened to me. She’s a good sister. You don’t want someone you love to suffer that much,” Esila said. “Thank goodness we found these doctors. Otherwise, she could have lost her leg.”

Ada isn’t sure what awaits her after she is released from the hospital. Her family is now living in a tent because their home is unsafe. But, for now, she is glad that her leg is healing and she is ready to return home to her children.

“I’m very grateful that the surgery went well. I wouldn’t have found this care anywhere else.”

Please continue to pray for so many suffering people in this region and for our staff as they seek to provide medical care and relief to hurting communities.

*Names changed.


Middle East Disaster Response - 080703 International Crisis Response

Samaritan's Purse is responding to the humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of multiple earthquakes that affected the Middle East. Your support enables Samaritan's Purse to respond in Jesus' Name by assisting people impacted by earthquakes.