Waheed's Wars - Saving Lives Across the World


Waheed's Wars - Saving Lives Across the World

The story of Waheed Arian, the Chester doctor who came to the UK as a child refugee and teenage asylum seeker, and whose telemedicine scheme is saving lives in global war zones.


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a telemedicine scheme which is saving lives in war zones

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Afghanistan. A country racked by seemingly interminable war. Here,

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there are always casualties. In hospitals they fight their own daily

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battle against injury and disease, armed with the most basic

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facilities. On the outskirts of the capital, Kabul, laser refugee camp

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for around 1000 Afghan families displaced by war and poverty. --

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lies a. Today they have a visitor, a man who knows how it is to live in

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the most basic of conditions. It is very sad to see this. It

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brings all my memories back. In his kitchen, in Chester, Dr

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Waheed Arian is taking yet another call from Afghanistan. Hospital in

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Kabul has a problem and needs expert help. Those hot -- hospitals are

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happy is not on speed dial. Over the past two years he has established a

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network of around 100 volunteer doctors and consultants in the West

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to give free advice to hospitals in war zones. It is all done by text,

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WhatsApp, Skype and e-mail. This is telemedicine at its simplest and

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most effective. They don't have the up-to-date technologies, they don't

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have the cutting edge expertise, they don't have advanced evidence

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-based medicine. So they need any expertise or any advice that's more

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world class here, that's very useful for them. Just to make sure the

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child as well. The child is stable. They send us the cases immediately

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on the phone and our specialist then look at those cases and then give

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them advice. What do we have here? What images? For the last three

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years Dr Arian has been based at a hospital in Liverpool but his life

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is still dominated by Afghanistan. Born in Kabul 34 years ago, he grew

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up knowing only war. The Afghan conflict in the 1980s made child

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refugee. The ensuing civil war of the 1990s shaped his destiny. His

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parents sent him to England to give him a chance of a future. They could

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never have imagined how he would seize that opportunity and create

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new hope for those casualties of war in his homeland and beyond. I've

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seen so much suffering in my childhood and that suffering is

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still very vivid in my memory and I wanted to see if I could help in any

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way alleviate that suffering for many people who were in a similar

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position to my as a child. And when I went back to Afghanistan I kept

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making regular trips, I could see the people were still suffering and

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I thought, I have to make a difference. Along with other

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colleagues go and try to do as much as we can. He and his wife have

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lived in Chester since 2014. Their son Zane was born two years later.

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Waheed is a specialist registrar in radiology based at Aintree

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University Hospital but just two years from qualifying as a

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consultant he has taken a career break to develop his new project,

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Arian Teleheal. He had spoken to me before he made the decision to

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concentrate on the charity but I honestly believe that if you've got

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a passion and you've got an idea you must fulfil it, otherwise you may

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have regrets in later life and the fact that his passion and his idea

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was to save millions of lives, especially in poorer countries that

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don't have such a great facility that we have in the NHS, and because

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the idea was so brilliant it was one of those risks that you couldn't not

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take. So, yes, I just said, go for it. But with the charity is still in

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its infancy, he doesn't have funding to pay himself a salary. So either

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lie on working Friday, Saturday and Sunday is in emergency departments

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as a senior emergency doctor and that actually provides me the

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expenses to be able to support my family, to be able to support myself

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as well as to cater for all the trips that I do. I'm off to Kabul,

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Afghanistan, from Manchester airport. I've had an invitation from

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the minister of health in order to review our work with telemedicine in

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hospitals and the expanded throughout Afghanistan in the near

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future. Unhappy that I will be able to see my family again tomorrow. --

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I am very happy. When he was born in 1983 the Soviet Afghan war was

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already in its fourth year. By the time he was five, his family decided

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to escape to Pakistan. They subsequently spent three years in a

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refugee camp near Peshawar. Today, back at the family home in Kabul,

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Waheed and his parents reminisce about their terrifying journey on

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foot and on donkeys through the mountains near the past. Most

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frightening of all was when they were almost killed by a Russian

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helicopter gunships. TRANSLATION: We thought that we would all be killed

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and this would be our last breath. All I was thinking was finding a way

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to save you. The plane fired a rocket which destroyed the house

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where we were hiding. I told you, if I am killed, go back to Kabul. Don't

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go anywhere else. On most trips home, Waheed takes

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close to distribute at the refugee camp in Kabul. The memories of his

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childhood years in Pakistan are always with him. The living

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conditions in a refugee camp are not humane. As a family of ten we were

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living in one mighty brew with just one carpet -- muddy room. If you

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clothes, no mattresses. The temperatures would rise up to 45

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degrees. We suffered malaria many times, like many other refugees in

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the camp. And I contracted tuberculosis which lasted for about

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two years. I was being treated by one of the doctors in the refugee

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camp and that's when I became inspired to become a doctor. So that

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I could help myself, my family and many other people like myself who

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were suffering. After three years in the camp, the family returned to

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Kabul. The Russians had gone, but civil war now breached through the

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country. This is where I used to live between the age of eight and

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15. All this area used to be all flat and destroyed by the war. We

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had to move from our house to another area near the mountains over

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their and from there we have to move behind the mountains over there.

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Because of the war. Then we have to move from there all the way to the

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other side of Kabul, just to hide from the shillings and bombing that

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were happening on a daily basis. -- shillings. Eventually his parents

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would take the decision to send him abroad and his life would never be

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the same again. But in 2017 he no longer runs from war, he confronts

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it and today in Afghanistan there's war on two fronts. The Taliban never

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went away and now the situation is further complicated by new

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insurgents. More than 30 people have been killed and dozens wounded in an

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attack by so-called Islamic State militance of a hospital near the

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Afghan capital. Local officials say the three gunmen were dressed as

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doctors... Waheed was actually in this hospital just 24 hours before

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the Isis attack. His younger brother, a junior doctor, was

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moments from death. Everybody was running to save their lives and we

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couldn't find a way to help. We found a door. We smashed the door

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and after that we all were running. Unfortunately, I lost my two friends

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who were my class fellows and I lost those friends in the hospital. We

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will all upper house waiting to hear the bad news. My parents were

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distraught. My mother was crying non-stop. We were in a shock

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situation, just waiting near the phone, complete shock, utter shock,

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how something like that unexpectedly could happen at any moment and

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that's why it is so dangerous. The attack was a stark reminder of what

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hospitals in Afghanistan are up against. But it's not just the

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direct results of terror attacks that need attention. With poor

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sanitation, scarce resources and a low standard of medical training,

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there are numerous problems which just don't occur in the developed

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world. On Waheed's latest trip he visits a number of hospitals to

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check on the progress of his telemedicines scheme and inevitably

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encounters new cases. Waheed's telemedicines scheme is

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deliberately nonpolitical and nonreligious and when it unreliable

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Afghan telephone system allows it gets results.

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TRANSLATION: Although our hospitals receive complicated cases, almost

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all maternity hospitals have emergencies. Two of our cases in

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particular were covered very well and we received very good

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information. With one of our patients, we weren't sure what the

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problems were. We sent the symptoms and after discussing with

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international doctors we started the procedure and the patient recovered

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well and was discharged. The green and white matter differentiation is

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maintained. As you can see there is no high density to indicate that

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there is any leads in the end of cranial or extracranial bleeds.

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Waheed also met with the head of emergency and intensive care

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services for the whole of Afghanistan. She has a direct line

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to the health minister, so she's a vital contact.

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All of this became possible because of Waheed's parents decision to send

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him to London in 1999. TRANSLATION: He was 15 years old when the

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fighting got worse. This time it was due to the Taliban. I had a

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discussion with my friend and told him that my son is very clever and

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very intelligent. And my friends helped me and told me they would

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tending to a foreign country. They took into Pakistan and their he went

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abroad. TRANSLATION: My son was very smart and he wanted to study. But I

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did not want to send him anywhere. We had a house which we sold, so we

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could send him to London. I became very depressed.

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So, the 15-year-old Waheed arrived in a new land and asylum seeker, not

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knowing what the future would hold. We had one contact in London and

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that was a family friend, and that was on Portobello, and then after a

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week I found a job for myself, and that turned into three jobs, but

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that was my primary mission to be able to support my family members.

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Always thinking that I had to educate myself as well, now that I

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have got the opportunities. The education began in earnest, he

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taught himself English and science and was soon studying for five

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A-levels at night school. By now he was also looking after his younger

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brother who had come to join him in London. But nothing was going to

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deter him. Five a grades were good enough to get him an interview to a

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place at Trinity Hall Cambridge. When I came for my interview I did

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not even know how to do my tie. So one of the parents for another

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student who was there for the interview, I asked them, if he could

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help me with the tie, so he helped me with my tie. After a few days I

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received a letter and the letter said "We are very delighted to offer

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you a place to study medicine at Cambridge University." I think that

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was one of the happiest days of my life, certainly. Hello, I am... Nice

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to meet you. Do you have a case to discuss today? Yeah, we have an

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important case that I want to discuss. Today they had a challenge

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for us, they discussed a very unusual case, some kind of... This

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is where we learn from outside as well, because such cases, we discuss

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them among our group of specialists here, we go back and we look at our

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literature, and then we give them the best advice that we can. They

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are also competent clinicians, the problem lies often in lack of

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resources, and sometimes in lack of experience, in some cases that are

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not straightforward. Waheed's network of volunteer consultants and

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doctors has grown to around 100. He is clearly very persuasive. He is

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particular good at engaging people's attention. So what he does, he tells

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people about the plight of war-torn countries and the lack of medical

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facilities. And he is very enthusiastic about getting people

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involved, to the point that he has spread his neck quite widely. --

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net. He has identified a little need, radiology is very important to

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nearly all cases that come into a hospital, particularly in an area

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where there is poverty or a war zone. And it is really collocated

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stuff. -- complicated stuff. We'll need some help and we are working in

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these hospitals, so it no -- comes as no surprise to me that people in

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these countries are looking around for help when it gets collocated.

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There are some places where tele- medicine is the only line of support

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for beleaguered doctors. Kunduz in Afghanistan represents the frontline

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of the battle the Taliban. Here in 2015 trauma centre was destroyed in

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error by a US bomb psych which killed 42 people. -- strike. In

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Kunduz, normal rules don't apply. TRANSLATION: Sometimes we get a

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patient who comes in with 20 or more guards, and they threaten the

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doctors. The dock is not safe. -- doctors. What we require is

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emergency help. We receive help from Doctor Arian's tele- medicine team,

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they help us diagnose cases we are not able to solve due to lack of the

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right equipment. We send our examinations to them and they give

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us advice. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts because they

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help selflessly and they have helped war-torn Kunduz.

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Waheed is back in London for an important meeting tomorrow morning.

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But overnight the calls keep coming in.

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The next day, he meets the most senior doctor in the UK, Sir Bruce

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Keogh, the medical director of the National Health Service. He wants to

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hear more about Waheed's work, and what the NHS can learn from it. Grab

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a seat. He brings an enormous sympathy to the approach, and I

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think there is a lot we can learn from that -- simplicity. And I hope

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that by bringing together the experiences of other people that

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have tried similar things around the NHS, along with Waheed, that we can

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catalyse the uptake of this technology. Port of our patients. We

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are getting a glimpse of the future here, and I think what he is doing

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represents something that is very special. Healthcare systems around

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the world are all constrained by their national boundaries. But the

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art, the science, the values of medicine no no national boundaries.

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And if anybody exhibits that, it's Waheed and his work. It connects on

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the top there, they scan the room, it is inside out... This simple

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everyday mitigation methods that so impressed Sir Bruce is the mainstay

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of Waheed's work, but he is also keen to push the boundaries. He

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wanted to try and augmented reality telemedicine call to Afghanistan,

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something that had not been done before. So we teamed up with a BBC

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technology unit, to explore its potential. What they are seeing is

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what you're seeing. So they will be able to see that as well on Skype?

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Fantastic. In a training theatre at Aintree Hospital, Waheed wares and

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augmented reality headset, and uses a mannequin to help illustrate

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details of a medical procedure. In the headset, he can see the doctors

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in couple, while almost for thousands of why -- in Afghanistan,

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while almost 4000 miles away they can see the augmented reality he is

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conjuring up in his headset. I will take the arrow and place it along

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the mouth on this mannequin, and then we have to make sure that the

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next vertebrate... We check the patient from head to to make sure

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there are no visible injuries or broken legs, any open fractures that

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we need to reduce before we move on, and we also check the temperature of

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the patient. It went very well. We discussed the medical case, we solve

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the problem, it was alive medical case in one of the hospitals in

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carpal Afghanistan, -- couple, Afghanistan, and we talked about the

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ways we can use this technology to advise and also educate. Waheed is

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already working with hospitals in Syria, and has plans to expand into

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Kashmir, Iraq and parts of Africa. He is also working with some sectors

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of the NHS to help enhance patient care and medical training gear in

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the UK. One penalty is any semblance of a normal family life. Now I'm

:24:18.:24:23.

doing this charity work from my living room, and I'm on the Move

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24/7, I mobile phone is with me, I co-ordinate all the activities in

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Afghanistan, and almost all activities in Syria. Yes, he is away

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a lot, and it can be hard and can be lonely at times, when you are on

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your own, missing -- when you see the other families out and think it

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would be nice to have my husband home. But on the other side, I know

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that he is doing amazing things for humanity, he is going to be saving

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thousands of lives, so I look at the positive and think, I have a great

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life and what about the people who would love to have something that

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that we have got. Shortly after Waheed's visit to Afghanistan, is

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BBC driver was killed in a massive explosion which claimed over 150

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lives. And injured hundreds more. Waheed and his team were once again

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called into action. Their work providing yet another glimpse of the

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medical future, brought to Afghanistan by a survivor of its

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troubled past. When I see the war-torn areas in Kabul, it brings

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back the memories of my childhood, and I'm happy that I am able to go

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back and help. So that is my therapy. One person can't do all

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this. What we need now is urgent support with it technology. We have

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come a long way in two years, and we are helping places that have no

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other support. And this is so important. Lives are at stake. And

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we can help save those lives. But we cannot do it on our own.

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The weekend is by no means a write-off, but right from the word

:26:54.:26:59.

go we have showers and thunderstorms rolling in across Wales

:27:00.:27:00.

John Simpson tells the remarkable story of Waheed Arian, the doctor from Chester whose life has been defined by war in Afghanistan. The former child refugee and teenage asylum seeker has now launched a telemedicine scheme which is saving lives in war zones across the world.