“This was my way of supporting the young men and women who are away from home fighting for the ideals of this country. It was a privilege to go.”
- Dr. Carlo Dall’Olmo, vascular surgeon
I love these guys.
On his trip last month, Dall’Olmo treated patients who came in almost straight from a war zone, airlifted to the hospital in Germany usually heavily sedated and on life support systems.
All were young and injured from explosive devices, still the enemy’s deadliest weapon in the two wars in the Middle East.
Some needed abdominal procedures because colons or livers had been pierced by gravel and other shrapnel. Others faced losing limbs.
At least one didn’t make it.
The sprawling German hospital is where most service members are sent to be stabilized. Their stays range from a couple days to longer before being transferred to a U.S. military hospital such as Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. where many ultimately spend the bulk of their recovery time.
“The objective was to get them stable so they could move on,” Dall’Olmo said.
Dall’Olmo said he wanted to volunteer overseas after receiving a letter from the Society for Vascular Surgery asking for medical volunteers to aid the armed forces prompted his trip.
He spent most of his days caring for patients in the intensive care unit and assisted trauma surgeons with nearly one operating procedure a day, mostly abdominal.
Many of the service members he helped were never conscious. Some would never be the same.
But none was bitter.
“I marveled at the attitude of the soldiers, that they were facing life threatening problems everyday but they still did their duty faithfully,” he said. “It was remarkable. They took danger in stride.”
But not everyone made it past the German hospital.
There was the young 25-year-old man from New Hampshire who had suffered severe head injuries from a blast in Afghanistan.
His parents had barely gotten there to Germany before having to make the decision to take him off of life support.
“That was a tough day,” said a teary-eyed Dall’Olmo. “The hardest part was seeing them have to say goodbye in those circumstances.”
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