First responders in the town of Madaya, besieged for three months by regime forces and facing severe shortages in supplies and personnel, have taken to producing their own fluid IV therapies to keep starving residents alive.
“We first tested [the handmade IV solutions] on a cow in the village,” Abdul Wahhab, a local first responder, tells Futun a-Sheikh, before beginning treatment on human patients.
Q: How are the hand-made IV fluids produced?
We put a pressure cooker filled with water over one burner, and place another empty pressure cooker on a second burner. We connect a pipe between both pressure cookers to distill the water. Then we add nine grams of salt for every liter of distilled water if we want a salt solution, and five grams of sugar for every liter of distilled water if we want a sugar solution.
We then fill thermal oven bags with the solution—you know, the ones used for cooking.
Q: Did you test out the IV's before using them on humans?
Yes, we first tested them out on a cow in the village. After we made sure [the IV was safe], we used it a few days ago on a man who was suffering from severe malnutrition, and was about to die of starvation. We saved him.
Q: How did you decide where to build the laboratory used for IV solution production? What goes on inside?
We chose to build the lab under a building as it's safer there from bombing. We made it into a simple laboratory [specializing in] three processes:
1) Hand-made, intravenous fluid therapy
2) Testing medicines with simple machines in order to make sure they're still good
3) Blood, bloodsugar and urine tests
Q: Is the medical staff in your village prepared to make these types of medicines?
A year ago, we had two surgeons and an anesthesiologist on our team. Now we merely have young first responders. We took training courses from “Doctors Without Borders,” without a single doctor among us.