Bible | Movies | Books | People | Hot Topics | Holidays | Humor | Gallery | Sanctuary | Sermons | Prayer | Quizzes | Communities | God | FAQ | Links

Jeff's Afghan Diary: We Saved a Life Today
June 16, 2007

      We saved a life today.

      Early this morning, there was a commotion at the front gate.  A man had brought his wife to our FOB for medical treatment – his small son had accidentally shot his pregnant wife in the abdomen with an AK-47 he had in their home.  The bullet had ripped through her stomach, leaving an exit wound with her intestines coming out of her side.  The husband had wrapped his wife in a blanket and immediately headed to our base for help.

      Our combat medic is a young man in his early 20’s.  He has been trained to care for gunshot wounds, trauma, even delivering babies.  He was not prepared for this emotionally, but with shaking hands, he tended to the woman.

      Language and culture norms were a huge problem: whenever our medic uncovered part of the woman’s body, the husband fought to cover it back up.  Even when “Doc” rolled up the woman’s sleeve to put an IV in her arm, the husband would put the blanket on her arm, so her skin was not exposed.  “Doc” had to bandage the abdominal wound behind the blanket.

      The 508th immediately sent up a MEDEVAC request for helicopter airlift to a hospital.  But the clock was ticking – the woman was nine months’ pregnant, and both her life and the baby’s was in critical condition, waiting for more advanced medical facilities and support.

      Meanwhile, an argument broke out with some family members who had come along.  They did not want the woman to leave the area, going so far as to say they would prefer her to die there, near their home, than leave in our helicopter.  Eventually, they submitted to our taking her.  We resumed our wait for the MEDEVAC.

      “Doc” decided the woman needed morphine to prevent her from going into shock.  This would normally be against medical advice for a pregnant woman, but “Doc” was concerned he could lose them both, so enough morphine was administered to “take the edge off” her pain and calm her some.  (It’s amazing what the Army will train and allow young men to do in a medical emergency – all Army combat medics carry morphine, which would never be allowed to be given by anyone other than a licensed physician in the US.)

      The ABP were there through the whole time, watching, maintaining crowd control, and generally helping keep calm.  Meanwhile, we waited.

      The helicopter arrived a little over an hour later, swooped down and landed in a rush, and then took off after the US Soldiers took the woman to the chopper on a litter.  Off they went, along with many prayers and hopes our efforts would not be in vain.

      Later that afternoon, we got an update over our radio net: Mother and baby were both fine, and the baby had been delivered – in good health.  We were overjoyed, as were the ABP.  The ABP Commander thanked us, saying how this will prove to the local villagers in the area that “America is good!”

      The young medic is being put up for a medal, as well he should be.  I saw him light up a cigarette after the helicopter left, saying how he needed to calm down.  Then he went off to find something to drink with caffeine in it – he had some blood and parts of intestine to clean up in his makeshift clinic.  He felt more relief than joy when he heard how he had saved a life.

-- Jeff Courter

Back to the Afghan Diary Index page

Charles Henderson

You are invited to join our Forum
and discuss any issues
pertaining to faith or the search for it.
Your comments are published here instantly.
CrossCurrents Forum

(To see the current list of topics your browser must allow Active Content)

Recent Discussions

Please take a moment to let us know you were here!  
Just send us an email to subscribe to our free newsletter.

For those who prefer a form: Click here to subscribe.

If you want to talk with someone in person,  please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and Executive Director of
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).  
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here.
God and Science (Hypertext Edition, 2005).
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion:
Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).

Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.  

For more information about Charles Henderson.