Featuring: Samer Attar, MD
Samer Attar, MD, associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Northwestern Medicine, is serving patients in northeast Ukraine, risking his own life to support local surgeons and medical professionals treating civilians injured in the war with Russia.
As a surgeon at Northwestern Medicine and veteran volunteer for Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), Dr. Attar has been placed by SAMS in coordination with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health to serve as a consultant and provide medical services where Ukrainian civilians are in dire need of medical care and resources. “The material needs are immense, but the sense of mission and community is solid and unbreakable,” says Dr. Attar. “People carry on business as usual in spite of the bomb sirens and shelling going on outside.”
His journey to Kyiv lasted 60 hours and was filled with air-raid sirens, military curfews, and transportation via car, train, bus and plane. When he first arrived, he explains, “It was pretty intense with constant sirens and Russian forces just 20 kilometers away.” With help from Vitaliy Poylin, MD, associate professor of Surgery in the Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery at Northwestern Medicine, who connected him to local medical professionals, Dr. Attar has visited several different facilities. He credits Dr. Poylin with being, “an instrumental resource in connecting me with local physicians who are his childhood friends, who have been nothing but gracious and hospitable as they welcome me into their community.”
Working with a team of local surgeons, he treated three civilians who were driving to a village liberated by Ukrainian forces when their car hit a landmine. All three survived the accident, but one of the victims suffered a horrible injury that resulted in him losing his leg above the knee. Dr. Attar also saw the same surgical team save the life of a man who was injured by shrapnel from a bomb blast.
In addition to helping treat local civilians, he is training medical professionals on war surgery principles and war wound management, using case studies from his experience in Syria. "Though I am giving lectures on this expertise, I am also creating a dialogue with these individuals and learning a lot in return," says Dr. Attar. "You get as much as you give."
An American Surgeon in Wartime Ukraine
As a Syrian American surgeon living in Chicago, Illinois, Samer Attar, MD, felt compelled to be of service during the Syrian civil war when doctors were being driven underground by Syria’s Russian-backed military. When Russian bombs began raining down in Ukraine in 2022, Dr. Attar raised his hand to cross international borders and treat the war wounded. In this podcast, he discusses his experience working with local medical professionals to provide medical services to Ukrainian civilians.
Listen to the podcast >
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