In ravaged Aleppo, the fight for survival can begin before birth

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HARI SREENIVASAN: But first, the fight for life in Aleppo, Syria, for a badly injured young woman and her unborn baby boy. This story comes from filmmaker Waad al-Kateab, who tracked the quiet and relentless efforts to save both mother and child. It is narrated by Matt Frei of Independent Television News. A warning, this story contains graphic images and may upset some viewers.

MATT FREI, Independent Television News: Everything you’re about to see happened over 48 hours in July in Aleppo.

On the streets outside, the sound and fury of war.


The toll that day: 45 dead, dozens wounded. But inside: the reverential concentration of ant makeshift theater. The woman on the operating table is called Maisa. She is nine months’ pregnant and she was caught up in one of the bombings when she was on her way to the hospital, by foot, close to labor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me see. Wipe it with a swab. Examine her hand and see if there is shrapnel. There isn’t anything. Give me the scalpel.

MATT FREI: In explosion, she broke her right arm and leg, but what the doctors are concerned about most is the shrapnel in her belly.

Did it kill her baby?

They want to perform an emergency cesarean.

What you’re witnessing is the fight to save one new life. In a city that is more used to dealing with untimely deaths in the operating theater, the fight for life appears victorious.

But there seems to be a problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is his heart beating?


MATT FREI: The doctors fight on. They’re now in danger of losing both child and mother. The struggle to save new life is visceral, instinctive, perhaps because outside death comes so easily.

Then the umbilical cord twitches — proof of life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He’s getting a rosy color now.


MATT FREI: And the most elemental sound of all.


MATT FREI: More powerful for a brief moment than Aleppo’s daily cry of death.

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