Syria Refugee Crisis: Reports from our staff in Lesbos, Greece.

Dr Nahla

Human Appeal’s, Dr. Nahla was approached by an anxious French Nurse who was asked her to walk with her to the car. There was woman in her 30s clutching her chest in the back seat with her husband. They had been walking 15km from the coast to the bus stop in Molyvos where she became breathless and was picked up by one of the volunteers for a French NGO driving along the road. She only spoke Farsi. Through our translator, Milad, we understand that she experienced sudden onset of central crushing chest pain associated with sweating and breathlessness.


It was mildly relieved by rest but was instantly exacerbated when she attempted to continue walking. She looked pale and clammy. Her husband said she had been on treatment for a long term heart condition but neither of them were sure what it was or what medications she was on. They were not able to show the doctor any medication as most of their bags were thrown into the water as they boarded the dinghy to reduce weight.


Dr. Nahla, attempted to provide her some pain relief with the only Paracetamol, which is all the doctor had and gave her a 500mg Aspirin tablet (the only form of Aspirin available on the island). Any form of Opiates is illegal to buy over the counter and GTN spray was a definite no, as anyone requiring the medication needed hospitalisation.



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Immediately our team arranged for the doctor and another volunteer to drive her to the hospital in Mytilene, which was one hour away. Fortunately, she was seen very quickly at the hospital, and changes on her heart trace detected. The hospital doctor informed our medical team that the changes seem chronic possibly from a congenital heart disease but he was awaiting the blood results including the heart enzymes.


A few hours later, the lady was left in the hands of the volunteers based in Mytilene. Upon following up her case, we learned that she was found to be severely anaemic requiring blood transfusions, which was the reason for her severe chest pain. However, she refused so she could reach the refugee camp in Moria and gain registration to continue on her journey across Europe.