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Woman gives birth after getting struck by a bomb
02:07 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

In war-torn Aleppo, doctors struggle to save a mother and her newborn

Extraordinary footage of the birth was shot in July by Waad Al-Kateab

CNN  — 

Birth is, at the best of times, an intense experience. But birth by emergency cesarean section, after the mother is seriously injured by a bomb in war-torn Aleppo, is something else altogether.

READ: What parents in Syria tell their children

Mayissa has just been the victim of an airstrike on her way to the hospital in a Syrian city under siege, with just a handful of doctors left.

Now on a gurney, Mayissa’s arm and leg broken, she is in shock as doctors all too familiar with massive injury remove inch-long pieces of shrapnel from her body.

As doctors pull the baby from her gashed abdomen, dread rushes into the operating room. Her baby is silent; white as the tile.

“Is his heart beating?” asks a person in the room.

“No. I’m sorry,” a doctor responds.

When doctors pulled the baby out he wasn't breathing.

Extraordinary footage of the birth was shot in July by Waad Al-Kateab and obtained by the United Kingdom’s ITN/Channel 4 News. CNN obtained the footage from Kateab and the network.

The baby is splayed on a green plastic sheet. His milky-while umbilical cord, still attached, is blocked with a pair of forceps. Doctors gingerly pump his chest, hoping to start the minutes-old heart.

They are resolute as they put what looks like a small baster in the child’s nose and mouth, hoping to suction out any fluid blocking his breathing.

A flutter in his umbilical cord is the first sign of life. His heart is working.

The boy takes his first breath and starts to cry.

A doctor grips him by the feet and thumps his bottom. To the viewer it seems rough, even violent; but it’s clear they know what they’re doing.

Color – human color – slowly flows through the baby’s body. As he is laid down, life rings out – a cry. And the doctors can smile.

His mother, too, has survived.

Amid unspeakable calamity, a glimmer of hope.

CNN’s Nima Elbagir contributed to this report.