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Hospitals Continue Treating Bridge Stampede Victims

A Cambodian doctor checks blood pressure of survivors of the Nov. 22 bridge stampede at Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh.
A Cambodian doctor checks blood pressure of survivors of the Nov. 22 bridge stampede at Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh.

Though many of the wounded have gone home, the Nov. 22 bridge stampede has left hospitals with dozens to care for, while many are having a hard time recovering.

Calmette hospital is home to many of the most seriously injured. In one room here, three patients lie on beds with white sheets, all victims of the stampede, which killed 353 people and injured nearly 400 others.

Among those hurt under the crush of people was Som Kuch Sano, 17. He lies on his bed and grips a bolster pillow. He is high school student from Kandal province. He closes his eyes and groans. He is in too much pain to be interviewed, his calf badly damaged from the trammeling.

“Doctors say there is still blood frozen in the muscle,” his mother Meas Sophana, says. “It required an immediate surgery; otherwise it would have damaged his kidney. The doctors won’t say when he’ll be released. They don’t tell us much. They only come here and say nothing serious.”

Meas Sophana says the surgeon told her that her son will not be lame from his injuries.

Nearby is Outh Nary, 39, a resident of Kandal province. Her left leg was crushed in the stampede, and she still cannot walk on it. The pain, she says, goes all the way through her body.

“I still have chest pain, and it goes down to my toes,” she says. “I cannot move my leg, and my ankle is still weak. I have a lame walk. It won’t be like before. Doctors say there is blood pressure on the ankle. They say I’ll be able to move my leg in the future, but I don’t hold much hope. I am afraid I won’t move like before.”

Some patients at Calmette have been moved outside of the rooms. Some receive IVs, while others remain in critical condition. Staff members ask those that can to move their hands and legs. Some patients need transfusions to remove toxins from their blood.

And while the government has offered to pay those who need treatment abroad, in Vietnam for example, no one so far has taken it up on the offer. Of the 353 dead from the bridge stampede, a number died in hospital, some of them days later.

Nhem Vanda, vice chairman of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said those who are still in the hospital will need time to heal, with injuries in their kidneys, lungs or even brains.

“In general they are good, but their pace of recovery is not the same,” he said. “Some will need a longer time. Some have already left the hospitals. Some are serious, some are minor. We don’t know of other dangers, but the doctors have been trying their best.”