Waheed's Wars - Saving Lives Across the World

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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


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


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


battle against injury and disease, armed with the most basic


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


network of around 100 volunteer doctors and consultants in the West


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


never have imagined how he would seize that opportunity and create


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


seen so much suffering in my childhood and that suffering is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Waheed is a specialist registrar in radiology based at Aintree


University Hospital but just two years from qualifying as a


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


as a senior emergency doctor and that actually provides me the


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


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


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


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


hospitals and the expanded throughout Afghanistan in the near


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


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


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


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


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


Waheed and his parents reminisce about their terrifying journey on


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


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


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


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


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


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


go anywhere else. On most trips home, Waheed takes


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


childhood years in Pakistan are always with him. The living


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


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


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


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


the camp. And I contracted tuberculosis which lasted for about


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


went away and now the situation is further complicated by new


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


how something like that unexpectedly could happen at any moment and


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


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


direct results of terror attacks that need attention. With poor


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


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


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


check on the progress of his telemedicines scheme and inevitably


encounters new cases. Waheed's telemedicines scheme is


deliberately nonpolitical and nonreligious and when it unreliable


Afghan telephone system allows it gets results.


TRANSLATION: Although our hospitals receive complicated cases, almost


all maternity hospitals have emergencies. Two of our cases in


particular were covered very well and we received very good


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


problems were. We sent the symptoms and after discussing with


international doctors we started the procedure and the patient recovered


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


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


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


Waheed also met with the head of emergency and intensive care


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


could send him to London. I became very depressed.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


taught himself English and science and was soon studying for five


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


not straightforward. Waheed's network of volunteer consultants and


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


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


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


facilities. And he is very enthusiastic about getting people


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


for beleaguered doctors. Kunduz in Afghanistan represents the frontline


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


help selflessly and they have helped war-torn Kunduz.


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


But overnight the calls keep coming in.


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


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


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


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


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


that by bringing together the experiences of other people that


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


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


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


represents something that is very special. Healthcare systems around


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


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


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


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


everyday mitigation methods that so impressed Sir Bruce is the mainstay


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


wanted to try and augmented reality telemedicine call to Afghanistan,


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


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


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


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


augmented reality headset, and uses a mannequin to help illustrate


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


medical future, brought to Afghanistan by a survivor of its


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


go we have showers and thunderstorms rolling in across Wales


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.