Friday, November 18, 2011

Durant Fellow witnesses history while providing aid in Libya


ON THE FRONT LINES:Mullaly, far right, with two colleagues in Libya


Oct. 20 began as just another day for Catherine Mullaly, MD, FRCPC, MPH, an MGH anesthesiologist working with Doctors Without Borders in Qasr Ahmed Hospital in Misrata, Libya. Mullaly started the day with morning rounds, assessing patients with colleagues and planning the operating room schedule. Having spent six weeks in Libya with support from the MGH Thomas S. Durant Fellowship in Refugee Medicine and the MGH Center for Global Health, Mullaly had witnessed the horrors of civil war first hand. She knew the day would include surgical cases and patients from both sides of the conflict, but she didn’t know she would soon witness an historical event from the front lines.

While attending to a patient in the operating room, news reached Mullaly that Libyan rebels had taken Sirte, a final stronghold of Muammar Qaddafi and pro-Qaddafi forces. In an email from Libya, she describes watching the scenes unfold on television alongside her Libyan colleagues.

“Inside this small space, I discover five or six female hospital staff whose eyes are all focused in one direction – toward a small television screen now featured prominently in the corner of the room. The screen bursts with the proud national colors of Libya – red, black and green – and shows those present in Sirte dancing in the streets.”

The fall of Sirte began a new era for the Libyan people, expressed Mullaly in her report from Libya. “After 42 years, Libyans experienced the first uncensored joy of a now victorious, free nation state.”

Mullaly returned home to the MGH on Nov. 14 and will present about her experience Dec. 5 at 3 pm in the Thier Conference Room. Read Mullay's full account from Libya.  

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