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Dr. Sanjay Gupta: A change in mood of 'Devil Docs'

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta

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•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been traveling with the U.S. Navy's "Devil Docs" unit. These doctors are Navy personnel who work for the Marines Corps.

Gupta spoke by videophone from southeastern Baghdad about the changing nature of these doctors' duties, from combat-related to humanitarian missions.

GUPTA: ... In southeast Baghdad, [the Devil Docs] are planning on setting up a hospital of their own -- a 500-bed hospital. This will not only take care of some of the fighting that still remains but also will handle a large part of this humanitarian mission, which is going to become their mission over the next few days.

They're not dancing in the streets here yet, but [there's] definitely a change in the mood. ... It has remained very busy here. Surgeons are continuing to operate [on more than] 140 patients over the last several days.

They've been told to expect anywhere from 40 to 4,000 patients. A big difference in those numbers. They're ready for about anything. [We've] talked about the types of injuries that they're seeing in the [Central Command] briefing -- they talked about women and children going through checkpoints, things like that.

We've seen a lot of those patients here -- some of the most difficult patients for the Devil Docs to take care of. The children especially are coming in. Sometimes [there are] very significant wounds.

[We're] still seeing those, but again there has been a change in the mood here. A change knowing that perhaps the end is closer for a lot of these Devil Docs and perhaps they're going to get to go home soon.

I've talked to a lot of these doctors, asking them -- would they stay? Would they help out during the humanitarian mission over the next several weeks? They answer without hesitation -- in the affirmative. They are here to stay and do the job and complete the mission. They're doing it as they have been all along.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report was written in accordance with Pentagon ground rules allowing so-called embedded reporting in which journalists join deployed troops. Among the rules accepted by all participating news organizations is an agreement not to disclose sensitive operational details.

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