Support Intelligent, In-Depth, Trustworthy Journalism.
Leave your feedback
In Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a stronghold of the Islamic State, warfare usually means an end to life, not its beginning. Recently, a woman nearing labor and walking to the hospital was seriously injured in a bombing. But after an emergency cesarean section and a long struggle to help the infant breathe, a cry was heard. Filmmaker Waad Al-Kateab documents this dual fight for life.
But first, the fight for life in Aleppo, Syria, for a badly injured young woman and her unborn baby boy. This story comes from filmmaker Waad al-Kateab, who tracked the quiet and relentless efforts to save both mother and child. It is narrated by Matt Frei of Independent Television News. A warning, this story contains graphic images and may upset some viewers.
MATT FREI, Independent Television News:
Everything you are about to see happened over 48 hours in July in Aleppo.
On the streets outside the sound and fury of war. the toll that day 45 dead, dozens wounded.
But inside the reverential concentration of a make shift theater. The faint pulse on the operating table belongs to Mayissa. She is nine months pregnant and she was caught up in one of the bombings when she was on her way to hospital by foot close to labor.
Examine her hand and see if there's shrapnel.
There isn't any
Give me the scalpel.
In the explosion she broke her right arm and leg. What the doctors are concerned about is the shrapnel in her belly. Did it kill the baby? They want to perform an emergency Caesarian. What you're witnessing is the fight to save one new life in a city that is more used to dealing with untimely death.
On the street the few living are pulled out of the rubble. In the operating theater the fight for life appears victorious. But there appears to be a problem.
Is his heart beating?
No. No, I'm sorry.
The doctors fight on. They are now in danger of losing both child and mother. But the doctors fight on. They're now in danger of loosing both child and mother. The struggle to save new life is visceral, instinctive.
Perhaps because outside death is unavoidable. Oblivious to events on the street the existential battle inside the theatre soldiers on.
The doctor clears the baby's airwaves. The child hovers between life and death, much like Aleppo itself. Then the umbilical cord twiches.
Is the heart working?
Proof of life.
What's his name?
He's getting a rosy color now.
And then the most elemental sound of all. More powerful for a brief moment than Aleppo's daily cry of death.
He just needs oxygen.
After 20 minutes of resuscitation we have recovery.
That's it! Cry! Cry!
Doctor Ahmad who brought him into the world — and saved his mother's life, is exhausted.
The war almost ended his life before it had a chance to start. But the war will continue to be his companion and shape the world he has entered.
I'm an old man now.
May God keep you safe. You're still young.
DOCTOR AHMAD, Syria:
Believe me. I've got so much pain in my legs now. I hide my screams so the guys don't hear me.
The baby's fine now. Thank God. Wrap him.
Watch the Full Episode
Support Provided By:
Support PBS NewsHour:
Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you. Please check your inbox to confirm.
Additional Support Provided By: