Linthicum woman begins effort to treat Sarajevo's children

TRYING TO SAVE WAR-TORN LIVES

October 04, 1993|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Staff Writer

The television news pictures of doctors in a bombed Sarajevo hospital resorting to bike pumps to render medical aid to young children, because the blast had knocked out the hospital's electricity and generators, shook Frann H. Hudghton.

"It was kids. Oh God! It was kids," she said. "I have a 13-year-old daughter, and I know if we should ever have a holocaust here, I wouldn't want her dying of shrapnel." But unlike most of the millions who have watched such pictures in recent months, Mrs. Hudghton did something.

Through an effort she spearheaded, some injured residents of what used to be Yugoslavia will be able to travel to Maryland to receive free treatment at area hospitals.

Seeing those pictures on television "was really emotionally wrenching for me," said Mrs. Hudghton, who has worked 21 years as a medical secretary.

"I've been in the medical field a long time and I've seen it all, but this was the worst."

The Linthicum woman was shaken even further when ABC news reported the war-torn region was having difficulty finding countries to take children for such services as reconstructive surgery.

"When they said that," Mrs. Hudghton said, "I knew my mission was written in stone."

Not sure exactly what to do, or where to call, she telephoned Gov. William Donald Schaefer's office and told them something had to been done to help people, especially women and children, from the war-torn region.

"The governor said, 'Yeah, you know? She's right. We need to assist people beyond our own border,' " said one of his executive assistants, Ed Trumbull.

The governor's office is serving as technical adviser to Mrs. Hudghton, squaring away complexities that must be dealt with in an effort that involves agencies ranging from the U.S. Department of State to the United Nations and other nongovernmental groups, Mr. Trumbull said.

All have pulled together. Soon, just a month after Mrs. Hudghton saw the ABC news program, the first group of youths and others from the war-torn region should start coming to Maryland hospitals that have offered their physicians' services on pro bono basis, he said.

Mrs. Hudghton's efforts, he said, "really goes to prove that one person can make a difference and people should get involved."

Several hospitals, including Johns Hopkins Hospital Children's Medical Center and Anne Arundel Medical Center, have agreed to take patients. The Bank of Glen Burnie has contributed $1,000. And Metro Ambulance Service has agreed to transport the patients from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to any of the participating hospitals for free.

The International Organization for Migration, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, will send patient biographies to participating doctors and hospitals, so they can be ready when the patients arrive. The agency will also screen patients, selecting those who most need help doctors here can render.

The U.S. Air Force will assist in transporting those in need of care, Mr. Trumbull said. Young children will be accompanied by a parent. Those without parents will be accompanied by a community representative from their home country.

The effort will give women and children preference, but will help everyone, Mr. Trumbull said.

Roger Orsini, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Memorial Hospital in Easton, is helping coordinate the effort on the physicians' side, rounding up everyone from psychologists to orthopedic doctors.

Dr. Orsini was one of two physicians from Memorial to visit Croatia in January to help the victims of the regions' bloody civil war. The looting of hospitals and the danger forced many of the country's own doctors to flee, leaving the populace without adequate medical care.

Mrs. Hudghton said she hopes the medical services the people receive here will help them be "a productive part of society, instead of being emotionally and physically mutilated."

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