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Hospitals stretched by Bali influx

By Grant Holloway, CNN

Australian doctors are treating injuries rarely seen in a civilian context
Australian doctors are treating injuries rarely seen in a civilian context

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SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Australian hospital burns and trauma units are being stretched by the influx of victims from last weekend's bombings in Bali.

Seventy-seven bombing victims are now in medical facilities across the country, while another seven remain in the Royal Darwin Hospital.

Those remaining in Darwin are having their conditions stabilized before a decision is made to move them to other hospitals.

Doctors there are now treating injuries rarely encountered in civilian situations, with horrendous burns complicated by deep glass and shrapnel wounding.

And because many of the victims had not been treated in the first hour after the explosions, complications such as renal failure and thermo-regulatory shutdown have also occurred.

Contamination of penetrating wounds and trauma shock are also causing problems.

One doctor at Sydney's Concord Hospital said the "war-like" injuries had exhausted Australia's supply of bio-engineered skin used to treat badly burned patients.

Peter Haertsch, the director of Concord Hospital's burn injury unit, told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper his unit had never before seen such a combination of injuries.

"It's something you wouldn't see in civilian life and something I haven't seen in 22 years of burns surgery," Dr Haertsch is quoted as saying.

He said he hoped the unit would complete most of the burns surgery by Friday, although for some patients the treatment would go on for weeks.

Airlift

In total, 86 of the most seriously injured survivors of the blasts were airlifted out of Bali in Royal Australian Airforce C-130 Hercules aircraft and other chartered planes.

All known serious Australian casualties are now thought to have been evacuated from Bali.

"Fifteen critically wounded people have been flown from Darwin to major hospitals in other States," Australian Health Minister Kay Patterson said late Tuesday.

"Three burns patients were flown from Darwin to Adelaide on Monday morning and five critical burns patients were flown direct from Bali to Perth on Sunday," she said.

"In total, 86 injured people have been airlifted from Bali to Australia since the bombing on Saturday night. Of those, 61 were initially sent to Darwin and 25 were sent Perth. Tragically two of those patients have since died."

Patterson said health authorities and health workers had responded magnificently to the emergency with emergency management plans being activated in states where specialist medical services were available.

The Australian government also announced Wednesday that it would pay airfares and accommodation costs to enable those Australians injured in Bali and recovering in hospitals here to be reunited with family members.

Payments would be made to families who lived a long way from hospitals where their injured relatives were being treated and would have difficulty paying for the air travel and accommodation required for visits, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said in a statement Wednesday.



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