Gaza hospital running low on anesthetic

All but most critical procedures cancelled due to shortage; laughing gas used as substitute.

October 21, 2007 18:13
1 minute read.
hospital generic

Hospital generic 224.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

Gaza's main hospital said Sunday it has run out of anesthetic for surgeries and canceled all but the most critical procedures, due to an Israeli blockade of its borders. The Shifa hospital had been using emergency reserves of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, for the past two weeks, and placed an order for fresh supplies, but stocks ran out Sunday morning, hospital spokesman Walid Mahalawi said. Israel has severely restricted the flow of cargo and people through Gaza's crossings since the violent Islamic Hamas took control of the coastal strip in June. Israel has since declared Gaza a "hostile entity" in an attempt to pressure Hamas to stop rocket attacks on Israeli towns and the border crossings. Mahmoud Daher, of the World Health Organization in Gaza said the cause of the nitrous oxide shortage was that Israeli suppliers would not ship fresh gas cylinders without receiving the empties in exchange. Because of repeated attacks by Palestinian militants on the crossings, the Israeli army is hesitant to allow the depleted canisters to approach for fear they might be rigged as bombs. "I suggest that the hospital go to Hamas and asks them to take the threat off the checkpoints," Israeli military spokesman Shomo Dror said Sunday. Mahalawi said 10 emergency operations were performed at Shifa during the day Sunday, down from a daily average of 20 usually carried out there. He did not know how many elective surgeries were canceled. In the absence of the gas, patients had to be sedated using intravenous drugs that pose risks to some and carry a longer recovery time, he said.

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