At about 11:30 a.m. on September 20 last year Kim Jong Chol, a worker who severed the lower part of his left forearm in an accident during work, was rushed to Pyongyang Municipal Hospital No. 1. At that time the bones of the severed parts were broken, their skin was torn seriously, and all the hypodermis, muscles, blood vessels and nerves were cut.
Immediately the hospital held a technical consultation. But the doctors were undecided about the fate of the case who was in critical condition. The patient needed a major operation none of them had done before. At this juncture Ri Man Guk, head of the clinical laboratory of the hospital, said, “If you hesitate like this, the patient will be deformed permanently. Let’s think about our duty before discussing about impossibility and possibility. I think we can do anything once we are determined to do like health care workers of the former generation did. We will perform the operation.”
Now practical measures were taken to that end. An operation team was formed with Ri as chief surgeon and several other doctors as assistants. That day the operation on the patient took place under the concern of the whole hospital. The wound was more serious than they had thought. The operation had to undergo several processes—the first operation on the wound, coaptation of bones, nerve suture, suture of tendons and muscles and stitching of skin—and there were often emergencies during the operation. It took much trouble to sew one blood vessel because it took dozens of stitches to finish it. The operation took as many as six hours, successfully completing the coaptation of the severed parts of the left forearm.
The doctors, however, did not relax even a moment. They had to take measures for checking poisoning, preventing infection and minimum blood circulation disorder and restoring the relevant function. While holding over ten consultations, they did scores of medical examinations and several times of skin grafting. And a round-the-clock treatment continued for tens of days. At last nerves in the patient’s rejoined arm were restored, making it possible for him to move the fingers. And his health recovered gradually.
Kim Jong Ran, wife of the patient, said, “I read about and witnessed on books and TV how devotedly our doctors work for patients. And I considered it ordinary. But this time I actually experienced it. The doctors and nurses made more sincere effort for the sake of my husband than they should do for their own relatives, even skipping meals and sleep. I really thank the Workers’ Party of Korea for providing us with such a benevolent social system.”
Kim Jong Chol said, “I never thought that I could have the arm again. When I regain consciousness from almost two days of coma, it was in place as it had been. I just felt as if I were in a dream. But when I saw the bright smiles of the doctors I came to know it was reality. I wish to express my gratitude to them for making me full of life again. After leaving the hospital I’ll work hard for this benevolent system and country.”
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