Intended for healthcare professionals


Abdullah Nakas

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 06 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:856

Bosnia and Hercegovina's most famous war surgeon

Abdullah Nakas was chief surgeon at Sarajevo's State Hospital for over 30 years. At the outbreak of the war in Bosnia and Hercegovina in May 1992, this hospital was part of the Yugoslav national army network of hospitals, serving army personnel but also dignitaries and local residents. As most of the staff had military training and the hospital was right in the centre of the city, it rapidly filled with casualties. Conditions were horrific and Abdullah would operate with his team under temporarily rigged lights, often without basic equipment, anaesthetic gases, or analgesia.

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In the first winter of the war in 1992, conditions in the State Hospital were especially harsh. There was little food, scarce medical and surgical supplies, and no heating. Abdullah had a practical solution for his patients even then. “We will show them that this is not so cold at all.” The next morning his entire team …

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