Indonesia Earthquake: Hospitals Struggle to Cope, Victims Share Harrowing Stories

Chronic shortages of surgeons, medicine and electricity have forced medical staff at Dr M Djamil Hospital in earthquake-struck Padang to stop operating on victims. One of the surgeons at the hospital, Fendri Akhri, said on Thursday afternoon that the hospital could not carry out operations without electricity because it was needed to power vital machines, such as those used to anesthetize patients during surgery. So far the hospital had operated on 20 victims, most of them students from a study course in Padang. “We only have 60 surgeons. We need more,” Fendri said. “And we desperately need fuel to start up machines, but the gas stations do not have enough gas.” Most of the victims had suffered broken bones that had punctured the skin, he said. Medicine supply was needed immediately to save lives, he added. There was one operation tent and more than ten emergency tents for victims set up at the hospital. One of the victims, Ike Desmayanti, or Desi, 26, a data entry employee with Suzuki Finance in Sawahan, was trapped when her company’s building collapsed. One third of her right leg had to be amputated so that she could be rescued from the rubble and her face was also badly wounded. Desi said that she had tried to run down the stairs of her office to escape, but got stuck at the front door. She was found at around 10 p.m. Wednesday night by a search and rescue team. Because her right leg couldn’t be moved, the team decided to amputate her leg. She was then brought to the hospital. At 2 a.m. the doctor had to amputate her leg further, to clean the wound and stop the bleeding. “I couldn’t feel anything at that time, I was numb. I couldn’t move my leg. And I didn’t know what to do,” Desi said. “I didn’t say anything when the search and rescue team cut my leg, I just let them do it. I rely on God, I just need to be sober,” she said. “I don’t care about my leg anymore, as long as I still have my life. And I don’t want to be pessimistic about my future. I will heal and work again.” Desi’s family had wrapped her amputated leg in a black plastic bag and placed it under her bed in the emergency tent. Another victim at the hospital, Basir Malin Marajo from Padang Jati, couldn't escape from his home when the quake struck. He almost reached the front door, but then a wall fell on him, breaking his left leg. He said he didn't want to be in the emergency tent anymore. "Please move me from here. I don't wanna get wet because of the rain," he begged. "I cannot sit, because if I sit, my blood transfusion stops. But when I'm lying down like this, I cannot take a pee. Please move me."

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