The hospital on the sprawling Bagram Airfield does not many trauma cases these days expect one. In a firefight between American and Afghan soldiers and Taliban insurgents, a 6 year-old was shot. The gun battle resulted in death of her father, a Taliban fighter along with her mother and some siblings.
U.S officials has confirmed that the girl's family has ties with Taliban, hence it is dangerous to reveal her identity or her uncle's who accompanied her to the base hospital. Media is calling her Ameera.
It can be easily said that she represents the way Afghan war continues to play out since many U.S. troops have limited their role to just "advising and assisting" indigenous troops. Violence continues in Afghanistan and it has killed more children last year than any since record keeping began. The UN said many people were killed or got wounded in the 2015.
Nurses have Ameera draw henna patterns to distract her from the pain. Image sourve: npr.org
Dr. Chance Henderson, a a Texas-born orthopedic surgeon who has been treating her said if Ameera had gone to Afghan clinic "she'd definitely have had an amputation- and rightly so. That is the best way to save her life if you don't have the means available to do what we have done in 12 or 20 surgeries."
Ameera is being treated at an American hospital because she was shot in a firefight that involved their troops, so she has been receiving American care.
Dr Henderson also said, saving her would not save her from the danger posed by the wound but also from the danger of going back to live in Afghanistan without it.
"Her outlook on life as a single amputee that does not have a family is much different than it would be for us in the States," he said. "Her future would be grim, and probably her life span would be short."
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chance Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon. Image source : npr.org
Air Force 1st Lt. Serena Matson remembered Ameera's "nonstop crying" when she came in. Matson said, "She is little. She does not know us. We are not familiar-looking, and there are just a lot of people in and out of the room. She was just scared. 'Who are these strange people? They don't look like me. Where is my family?' "
After many days of treatment, the staff member made her feel more comfortable. She got many toys, crayons and movies starring Mickey Mouse.
Even the staff member's became fond of her, now Matson in her free time does Ameera's hair, learning few Pashto words and teaching her little English.
Even though Ameera came through from the biggest challenge of her life , the doctor said that chances of saving her leg is still bleak and everything depends upon how the leg heals over the time.
"My daughter- that's the first thing she asks me," Henderson said. "'How's the leg doing, Dad?' I do not want to give her bad news."
-by Bhaskar Raghavendran
Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication from Amity school of communication, Noida. Contact the author at Twitter: bhaskar_ragha