'My readiness will never change'
Dr Shadid has worked as a general surgeon in the UAE for nearly eight years.
"I remember this one boy so vividly. He was just 11 years old - the youngest patient I had treated. He had a distressing gunshot wound." The first time UAE-based general surgeon Dr Tariq Shadid volunteered as a doctor overseas was in response to a call for help from the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
"There was a rise in injuries during clashes that erupted in Ramallah, Palestine. The injuries were so significant that the ministry communicated that it needed surgeons urgently," he said.
Assisting the surgical department of a hospital in the area, Dr Shadid said the 10-day volunteering stint in 2015 was "eye-opening". He was treating gunshot wounds of people caught in conflict and most of his patients were under the age of 18.
"I have a background in trauma, but this was my first time treating wounds of this kind inflicted by fellow humans on young children. These youngsters had various kinds of gunshot injuries: for example, one had been hit by a bullet which had entered his thigh and exited the other end." Others had been shot in the abdomen.
Angered by the fact that it was "the norm" to see such devastating wounds inflicted on children, Dr Shadid said there was one thing which kept him going. "It helps clear my conscience. It's easy to say 'I don't live there, it's not my problem', but at least I am doing something about it."
Dr Shadid has worked as a general surgeon in the UAE for nearly eight years. On the side, he volunteers with the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF). "I wouldn't refer to myself as a warzone surgeon. I am simply a surgeon. I do this because it brings out the humanitarian in me."
Originally from Palestine himself, Dr Shadid said going to help out in Ramallah was a natural reaction. And though emotions do play on his mind, situations like these call for him to put his "doctor hat on" and do the job.
"We are dealing with people in distressing situations, and in my case, I was dealing with young children coming in to the hospital in a state of shock. That meant I had to put their psychological wellbeing before mine."
To be a doctor working in areas of disaster and crisis goes far beyond just doing your job. Having to witness the agonising image of innocent lives going through unnecessary turmoil all because of man-made calamities isn't a job for everyone. But Dr Shadid said this is his "call of duty".
"I am ready to go at anytime and that readiness will never change."
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