“I will be testifying to the illegal use of Afghan corpses for medical "practice," which I witnessed while serving as a medic in Afghanistan.”To me that always left a lot up in the air. Even within Islam it is permitted for medical personnel to utilize cadavers for study and training, but even so, as is the case here, such can still be done illegally. From the Times On Line:
In January 2003, O’Brien was deployed to Afghanistan for eight months. While he was there, he had many experiences that made him uncomfortable. Several times he witnessed an Afghan civilian die on the operating table after treatment from a mobile military surgical unit. Rather than prepare the corpse for the family, O’Brien witnessed the surgeons and the medics use the body to practise on.
“One doctor said, ‘Come up and feel his heart!’ This is what a heart feels like.’ ”
Half the platoon, if not more, participated. Daniel Paulsen, 27, was there and corroborates this story. There are photographs as well. Someone had grabbed O’Brien’s digital camera and taken photographs of the heart and the medics walking around and poking it. These photographs were taken for fun.
Eventually the chest of the corpse was closed up. “It was a total violation of our medical oath to use a corpse for medical training,” says O’Brien. “What’s particularly terrible is that these were all doctors that had practices back home – they were familiar with the law and the Hippocratic oath. There was such a huge disconnect between the way they treated Afghans and the way they treated American patients.O'Brien needs to be questioned in some detail on this. The story says the photographs were taken for fun, but the surefire implication was that the doctor was using the opportunity of an open chest to let a group of medics learn what a human heart fells like! Why might that be a good thing? Simply because those medics might just find themselves in a situation with a soldier, a Marine, an Afghan civilian adult or child or even an enemy insurgent with a traumatic chest wound, say from the shrapnel of an IED explosion, miles from a hospital, in which it may help to save a life if the medic can recognize that heart muscle!
O'Brien says “It was a total violation of our medical oath to use a corpse for medical training...”
Yet cadavers are used for medical training for doctors and nurses every day! And this was not the needless dissection of a corpse. The way this is described, the heart of that dead patient was exposed already. Unless O'Brien can give a lot more incriminating detail than that, rather than an atrocity or a war crime or even a severe act of criminal behavior, doctors may indeed have broken rules and even possibly laws but did so in the interest of saving lives by using whatever methods were available to instruct people in what is not readily available, such as, what the human heart muscle feels like.
For a very long time, centuries, people have known that battlefield surgery and medical treatment are unlike any other. They are the busiest high crime big city ER on steroids with explosions and shrapnel thrown in. The M.A.S.H. units were famous, long before the television series, for both their life saving unorthodox approaches to treatment in dire circumstance as well as their irreverent behavior.
People have long recognized that levity in the pressure cooker and even the horror are not due to a lack of decency. They are often simply how good people try to cope with what is hard.
This story needs to be flushed out or down!
I have a relative who managed a big city ER for years. Army Special Forces has agreements with hospitals around the country. SF medics in training would go to those, often to the ERs, and wait for the case to come in that needs the chest to be opened. If lucky, it can be a scheduled open heart surgery. Openingthe chest is always major surgery. Sometimes it's sceduled, sometimes they wait for days. If one comes in, and that's not a sure thing, the medic trainee scrubs and enters the surgery. With the surgeon and medical staff present, he opens the chest. Then he backs off and the regular staff do their thing.
Why do they do that? Because SF medics on teams will quite often operate in places where there are not only no medical facilities, but in places where extraction to such facilities is often not possible, or has to wait. If someone is shot in the chest and dying, an SF medic may have to open that chest in the field, wherever that field is.
There are no doubt a great many people who have had open heart surgery around who have had their chests opened by SF medics in training. If they knew that, some might not be happy about it. Yet every protection is there. The medics are trained for the procedure in the same classroom manner as physicians, and just like physicians, the first time they do so it is supervised by a surgeon and medical staff and in a controlled environment.
It saves lives. But it is not what people expect!
O'Brien really needs to give details of this "practice". Was it "practice" for saving lives?