Trauma HGH
The medical team with their patients after recovery. Injured patients from right to left: Nel Balquin, Khalid Al Kuwari and Khalifa Al Shahwani

‘They needed a miracle to recover,’ is how the team from Hamad General Hospital’s (HGH) Trauma Center described the conditions of three patients who were injured in road traffic accidents and treated at HGH.

In acknowledgement of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which is observed on the third Sunday of November each year, the Trauma Center team invited three former patients to come speak with staff about their experience.

Nel Balquin, a Pilipino personal trainer and bodybuilder, who spent eight months recovering at HGH after sustaining multiple injuries when he was struck by a vehicle while crossing the road, says doctors at the Trauma Center saved his life. Balquin said:

I was walking by Ramada Hotel. I was crossing the street to reach my workplace when I was hit by a car. I woke up to see myself lying in the hospital with an open abdomen. I had a fracture in the pelvis and required about 20 surgeries.’

Road traffic injuries cause one out of every eight deaths (12.5%) in Qatar and are the leading killer, causing more deaths than cancer or cardiovascular disease. According to road traffic injury statistics released by Hamad’s Injury Prevention Program [HIPP] earlier this year, pedestrians are Qatar’s most vulnerable road users with one in three road deaths being pedestrians. Director of Trauma Critical Care Unit, Dr Ahmad Zarour, said:

Nel required a whole team of trauma specialists. He had abdominal injuries and injuries to the pelvis and limbs. We started the treatment according to priority. Stopping the bleeding came first, followed by resuscitation and critical care, which required a group of trauma, orthopedic, urology, anesthesia, rehab and ICU doctors. It was challenging to coordinate between different specialists but we succeeded in treating the patient and helping him to recover.’

Trauma Centers are uniquely designed and staffed to handle critically injured patients whose needs go beyond what a standard Emergency Department is equipped to treat. Traumatic injury is a disease process unto itself and requires specialized and experienced multidisciplinary treatment, beginning from the call to 999 all the way to the rehabilitation process. Using a systems approach, HGH’s Trauma Center reaches out through HIPP to prevent injures first and coordinate the complex care that the multiply injured patient needs second.

Seventeen-year-old Khalifa Al Shahwani, a Qatari national who was injured in a road traffic accident, arrived at the Trauma Center with contusions in his lungs, fractures to the pelvis, nose, mouth and bleeding in his liver. Describing his own condition as critical, Al Shahwani says HMC doctors saved his life.

Khalid Al Kuwari, also a Qatari national who was injured in a road traffic accident, arrived at the Trauma Center with a pelvis fracture, ankle fractures and complex facial fractures. He spent 20 days in hospital, recovering from his numerous injuries and also underwent physiotherapy sessions at HGH as an outpatient.

Al Kuwari says his condition was critical but that Trauma Center doctors saved his life. He cautions Qatari youth to drive safely, consider the speed limit and fasten their seatbelts. Al Kuwari also expressed gratitude for his care team, adding that today he doesn’t exceed speed limits and always wears a seatbelt.

Treating the three patients required the expertise of an entire medical team. Dr Hassan Al Thani, Senior Consultant & Head, Trauma, Vascular & General Surgery, led the team that included Trauma Consultants Dr Ahmad Zarour, Dr Rifat Latifi, Dr Hisham Abdelrahman, Dr Ruben Peralta and Dr Ashok Parchani and Dr Abdullah Al Nuemi, Head of Urology.

Trauma is the most common cause of death and disability among Qatar’s young adult population and Qatar has one of the highest road traffic death rates in the region. According to Dr Al Thani, he warns young drivers against speeding, and driving without a license. He also tries to ensure that the public understands that trauma is preventable, stressing the importance of wearing safety belts and obeying the rules of the road.