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Freedom to Heal: Wounded Libyan Fighters Receive Care at Spaulding North Shore and Salem Hospital
By Bill Ewing

“Because of our proximity to Spaulding North Shore, a number of specialists at North Shore Medical Center have been involved in the care of the Libyan patients,” says Mitchell Rein, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer.

Recently, Jaime Rivera, MD, performed a life-changing surgical procedure on Belgassem Ali, a 22-year-old Libyan freedom fighter who suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen during a skirmish with Moammar Gaddafi loyalists.

Speaking through a translator, Ali explained that his injury occurred when he and a small group other Libyan freedom fighters were “trapped by Gaddafi’s militia early one morning and came under gunfire.” Several suffered gunshot wounds, his through the buttocks and abdomen causing serious damage to his small intestine and colon. Ali received an emergency colostomy at a Libyan hospital prior to coming to the U.S. to receive additional care.

“I was asked to see if Belgassem would be a good candidate for a colostomy reversal, essentially reconnecting his colon so that he could get rid of the colostomy bag and lead a better life,” says Dr. Rivera. A series of tests showed that he was a good candidate and Dr. Rivera successfully performed the procedure in the Salem OR. After seven days of recovery on the Davenport 7 med/surg unit, Ali was returned to Spaulding for further rehabilitation.

“This surgery will dramatically improve my life,” says Ali. “I feel like I have had the very best care available here in the United States, and I’m very grateful to everyone involved.”  

In addition to Dr. Rivera’s surgery, a number of consultations have taken place, particularly in the areas of psychiatry, neurology and orthopedics. Staff members who work in such areas as dietary, environmental services and security have also been actively involved with the Libyan patients.
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