Calgary

Calgary-based doctor returns from Iraq after volunteering at front-line hospital

A Calgary-based cardiologist who's returned from treating patients on Iraq's frontlines says his faith helped him provide the same quality of care for victims on all sides of the conflict.

‘To beat the darkness you need to show the light,’ doctor says

Dr. Karas, who asked CBC not to use his full name or show his face to protect his safety, says his faith gave him love and compassion to treat patients on all sides of the conflict in Iraq. (Stephanie Wiebe/CBC)

A Calgary-based cardiologist who's returned from treating patients on Iraq's front-lines says his faith helped him provide the same quality of care for victims on all sides of the conflict.

Dr. Karas is working on qualifications to practise medicine in Canada, but can legally practise in the Middle East. He spoke with the Calgary Eyeopener on the condition his full name not be used to protect his safety.

For three weeks, he provided emergency medical care near Mosul at a field hospital organized by Samaritan's Purse — a humanitarian aid organization. The patients included civilians, military personnel and suspected ISIS fighters.

"We gave them all the same care … the same love, the same passion," said Dr. Karas.

He said he did struggle after treating a two-year-old boy hurt in an attack by ISIS and then having to go help a suspected ISIS militant. But he says his faith helped him overcome having negative thoughts.

"To beat the darkness you need to show the light," said Dr. Karas.

The humanitarian organization that operated the hospital says roughly 20-25 patients needed treatment for serious injuries each day. (Samaritan's Purse)

He'd been following the conflict in the news and felt compelled to help.

"Those people are not our enemies. These people have been deceived."

The hospital received about two dozen patients each day.

"The first day we opened the hospital we had a rush of injured women and children and that was heartbreaking. You see children aged two and five, and women just trying to flee, and they were shot by mortars," he said.

Despite such experiences, he says he wants to go back for another short-term medical aid mission.

"I saw a bigger picture than we live in here."


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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