Magazine article New Internationalist

The Oath: A Surgeon under Fire

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Oath: A Surgeon under Fire

Article excerpt

The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire Khassan Baiev (Pocket Books ISBN 0 7434 3036 0)

In 1994 Boris Yeltsin ordered Russian troops into Chechnya and the rebellious Caucasian republic's 400-year struggle for independence erupted into bloody, outright war. Appalled by the situation, the Chechen surgeon Khassan Baiev, who had been practising lucrative cosmetic surgery in Moscow, returned to his beloved homeland. He set up a makeshift hospital just outside Grozny and began treating all who needed his care, on both sides of the conflict.

Baiev found that his dedication to the Hippocratic Oath meant he was denounced by his compatriots for treating wounded Russian soldiers and branded a terrorist sympathizer by the authorities for treating 'bandits'. Nevertheless, despite imprisonment, torture and the bombing of his house and surgery, he continued to operate under impossible conditions. Eventually, in 2000, exhaustion and breakdown caused him to seek asylum in the United States, where he still lives, unable to practise medicine. …

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