doctor emergency, you will have to operate for many years in war zones. They went several times to Syria, were 2016 in the besieged Eastern Aleppo, the last Western doctor. How can you treat people, if from the top, throw bombs thrown and the bottom of Islamists Terror?

in 2016, I drove to Aleppo, because me colleagues that I knew from previous visits, had asked. I knew you would take care of me. But of course the fear is always there.

What do you remember particularly?

The smell.


It is hard to describe, a mixture of geborstenem concrete and death. Of course we tried to keep everything as clean as possible, but that was impossible. We only had water, no proper cleaning agent.

David Nott and his wife Elly have a Foundation that takes care of the training of Doctors in crisis regions. We will forward your donation with pleasure. Please donate: IBAN DE20 2007 0000 0469 9500 00 – BIC DEUTDEHH – keyword “victims of war”;

How was the mood in the hospital?

beaten Dark and pretty low. We heard the bombs. The hospital was surrounded by tall buildings. But these houses had all been hit several times, and also our hospital had taken a direct hit. The generators were not working often, the lights went out again and again.

what injury did you do?

in 2016, threw off the Regime, mainly barrel bombs. The with explosives-filled barrels. The result is horrible, not only because of the direct consequences of the Detonation. Most of the houses in Aleppo are built of concrete. And if a house is hit by a barrel bomb, there is a huge toxic dust cloud. The people that were brought to us were from head to foot covered with dust. Often you could not see whether it was a man or a woman. Sometimes we had even showed problems, to detect the direction in which the face. It was cruel.

How do you cope with that?

You tried to give, of course, be Best. But the conditions were difficult. There was not enough blood, enough instruments. The worst were the many children.

what do you mean?

Normally about 15 to 20 percent of the victims in war zones children. In Aleppo, there were up to 80 per cent.

she Broke out sometimes in tears?

I’ve been trying to avoid that. But if you do it with cruel facing children, it is difficult to preserve the collection. Once we had a family with five children in the hospital, four of whom were seriously injured. The feelings in these moments are hard to describe. Or if children received the can talk, which, as we know, however, that you will die within the next hour. This is hardly to resist.


people save under the open sky: David Nott, 2005 in the Sudanese Region of Darfur. In many years of Fighting between government and rebel forces, hundreds of thousands died there.

©David Nott Foundation

What were you doing in such situations?

What would do: I held the Hand of the children, I took them in the Arm. However, we should not get involved emotionally too much for it. You have to imagine the Situation: Just as might have been delivering five or six children. In half an hour, again just as many will come. And in an hour, maybe more. If you let every case, you can’t do his work. You have to try to switch off. But this is very, very hard.

In her book,* describe how a pregnant woman was that was struck down by a sniper down. The ball was still in the head of the embryo.

That was 2013. At that time, Aleppo was full of sharp. The focused every day on a different part of the body. In a day of people has been brought to us that were all on the right side of the body hit, the next all injuries to the legs were. And once you had selected seems to be a very perfidious target: pregnant women. Within a few days the six of us have been provides. That was the Cruelest and most shocking, what I have ever experienced.

you Lose at such moments Believing in God?

Normally I don’t go to Church. But if you are in such a situation, then you have to think in God. There must be a reason! You don’t say but: This is all so bad, I want God to help these people.


I’m trying to describe it like this: It exceeds in the sub-consciousness of a limit. It comes in an area, where you automatically have a connection open. Where you feel that you need God, because no one is there.

they Had to be in Syria, fear of being kidnapped?

That was a constant danger. At the beginning of 2013, since it went still. I drove from hospital to hospital, even though the city was full of ISIS soldiers. Gradually, however, it became clear to me that If IS going to kidnap people me, you can find me easily. The fear was large – especially if it’s what happened sometimes, knocked in the middle of the night at the door. Everyone knew where you could find me.


Almost like a Tourist emergency 2014 is shown in front of the rubble of Aleppo. The Horror he witnessed, not to let go of him until today.

©Andrew Crowley/Telegraph/Camera Press/Laif

How are you with the anxiety dealt with?

There was a time in August 2014, as I was quite in a panic. Just because the Journalist James Foley had been beheaded, the siege ring around Aleppo was and my Mission would take two weeks. I then went on the road. Remained almost exclusively in the OP.

had the IS-fighter on the operating table?

Once I had just opened in a patient’s chest, as six men with rifles in the OP stormed. The were IS fighters, Chechens. The man on the operating table, apparently, was one of them. The fighter wanted to know what we were doing. And who I was at all. My Syrian colleague to distract you: you should let me operate, or else your brother will die. My hands were totally shaking, I had a huge fear. The leader looked at the wound, the other went up and down. But then, I only thought of the patient, totally focused on him. I suspected If I to die on, then here is really difficult. Since my hands were calm. After an hour of Fighting were he planted finally, by Walkie-Talkie somewhere else.

Had the IS people kill you in case of an error?

Probably. The were crazy. A few weeks later, another command is charged to the hospital, has pulled a patient out on the street, and there beheaded. The thought that he was a regime fighter – in fact, the man in the Free Syrian army.

you have met Bashar al-Assad, the man behind many of the atrocities in Syria, even once, when he was still a young ophthalmologist in London. How’d you manage that? Here is the doctor as the dictator?

for me, these are two different people. When I met Assad in 1993, was just a polite young man. I then made a phone call later with him, but under very different circumstances: in 2016, that was when I negotiated with the Regime over the evacuation of Aleppo. After many days, I have reached at the time, actually his office. It was a conversation with some brutal sounding military, but in the end, someone with a very different, softer voice, “fine says.” And “Goodbye”. That was Assad. I think he also knew who I am. In any case, we were able to evacuate a few days later.

What is the most important rule for a doctor in crisis?

Always nice to be submissive. Never talk about politics. And you have to read the people. Who could be dangerous? And of these keep.

Improvisation is certainly the rule.

Clear. In 2008, for example, I worked in the East of the Congo, Rutshuru. There we had a patient whose Stump was infected by gangrene. It was clear to me: This man would not had done die, if I amputated the whole of the shoulder – what I never. A colleague in London the could. I did not reach him. I sent him a SMS, and in the middle of the night the answer came in the instructions for Operation as an SMS. I wrote on a leaf and hung them on the wall in the OP. The man survived.


After the devastating earthquake in January 2010, Nott flew to Haiti, where he treated burn injuries in a three-month-old girl


in countries whose rulers those values with trample, which you do as a doctor, particularly: Would have worked and health of the people. They were in Afghanistan when the Taliban ruled.

Yes, in Kandahar. I worked for the International Committee of the Red cross. In this function, we have looked at the Sharia court meetings, which were held every Saturday in a stadium. A man passed within a few minutes of walking, then the people were shot. Minor infractions were punished with amputations. Because the defendants stood in a row and waited stoically to the fact that someone cut off a foot or an Arm. Barbaric.

And there was nothing they could do.

no. Our task was to issue only after an execution the death certificate. Sometimes the Amputees came to us. The had then the severed Hand in a plastic bag and asked if we could sew again. That was terrible. And it is even now, if I only talk about it. Operate, we were able to, in turn, only if the Taliban gave the approval.

We can imagine?

In the operating room, a policeman was always present. Had to agree to the Operation – although he had, of course, of all of that, no idea. Once a woman was bleeding following childbirth is quite heavy. We had to operate. But the policeman, I do not know why, shook his head. We begged and pleaded – no Chance. Coincidentally, knew a nurse from the us to the Taliban leader Mullah Omar. We stormed out of the hospital, raced to him. I was amazed that a man vorließ us at all. But in fact, Mullah Omar gave the Okay for the surgery – maybe just to get rid of us.

you Were in danger of their lives, in Afghanistan or elsewhere?

a number of Times. On my first use, the of 1993 in besieged Sarajevo. I was in the ambulance on the way through town and felt pretty safe. But then we went on a really wide and free road – until I suddenly heard the crack of the windshield, followed by the thud of that, if gun hammering bullets into a body. I felt blood in my face, but knew in the Moment, whether I was taken. The driver had got caught in the shoulder, but he slowed down put it in reverse. Then he raced to the hospital. There, it turned out that I was actually unharmed, the driver also survived, but the stretcher-bearers, who had been sitting next to him who was dead.

How you felt there?

Very strange. Of course, I was in shock. But then a different feeling of euphoria came. I felt so alive, like never before. As if I had been newly born. As if I could fly. I was almost killed – but it just made it even more exciting. And I knew I wanted more of it.


Sarajevo 1993: Notts first use in the war and almost his last. The shelling this ambulance he and his driver survived; a third man in the car, however, died.

©David Nott Foundation

The risk as a drug.

So I can describe it. It is dependent on it. You will feel invulnerable, especially if one is still young. But even today, I get uneasy when I realize that somewhere in the world a crisis comes to a head, when I suspect that I might soon be needed again.

you go back after a couple of weeks back, the local Doctors, however, must remain. Do you feel you guilty?

Sure, this type of guilt I feel is not out of the question. But it’s like this: We give these people something, we teach you specific techniques that will save other people life. We are not a tourist. The local Teams can understand and respect that.

How do you come up with the different worlds, right? This is London – there’s a war on?

Sometimes, not very good. When you come back from the war, from this Macho and violent culture, is another. You will be aggressive. After my last deployment in Syria, I was at the end. As a patient didn’t want to stop talking about a trivial Problem, I freaked out. How could people get upset if somewhere else people had a lot worse to Worry about! I’m just your mouth and go see. I then got up and started shouting. I couldn’t help it. I was talked out of it, it was the sciatica. Anslocking I sat for three hours alone in the treatment room and the ceiling staring at her.

post-traumatic stress disorder?

A kind of psychosis. There were days when I lay in a foetal position on the floor and had the feeling, from the top on myself to look down. Once, a week after I had come from Aleppo, I had even a moment to forget, when I was in Buckingham Palace.

David Nott and his wife Elly have a Foundation that takes care of the training of Doctors in crisis regions. We will forward your donation with pleasure. Please donate: IBAN DE20 2007 0000 0469 9500 00 – BIC DEUTDEHH – keyword “victims of war”;

In the case of the Queen?

Yes, she had invited me to a Lunch. Probably you had told someone from my work. The contrast between the Pomp in the Palace and Aleppo, it was too much for me. At dinner I sat next to the Queen. As she spoke to me, I understood at first – my hearing was damaged in a bomb detonation in Aleppo. But I could also say even nothing at all. No words came out of my mouth.

How did the Queen?

you asked where I come from. I said: Aleppo. You: How is it there? That was too much. My lower lip began to tremble, I was on the verge of collapse. The Queen looked at me skeptically. Then you touched my Hand. Finally, she took from a silver box, a couple of biscuits, so we fed her Corgis, which were under the table. For the Rest of the meal, you have to take then the conversation; we made Small Talk about the dogs.

*David Nott: “it Was the Doctor. Surgery on the Front Line”, Pan Macmillan,

Interview: Marc Goergen


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