A Khmer army surgeon risked mutilation on Saturday (December 28) to extract a live grenade which had been embedded in the body of the young woman.
GV PAN FROM Building TO soldiers setting up special operating table with sandbag protection (5 shots)
CU X-ray print being examined
SV Woman being carried on stretcher
SV woman's husband squats beside woman on table (2 shots)
GV People looking from stairs of nearby building (2 shots)
SV Surgeon walks out and patient moved into special operating unit
SV Patient raised to operating position
SCU Operation being performed (2 shots)
CU Grenade being removed and placed in tray and onlookers cheering
Background: A Khmer army surgeon risked mutilation on Saturday (December 28) to extract a live grenade which had been embedded in the body of the young woman.
The woman, wife of a solider, had been wounded last month while with her husband in the front lines south of Phnom Penh. Doctors who treated her didn't discover the grenade, and it was only found later while she was convalescing.
She's been hit by an M79 grenade, which is about the size of a hen's egg and is fired from a shotgun type of rifle. To minimize the danger, Saturday's operation was performed in the open air, in a field outside Phnom Penh's military hospital.
The woman was placed inside a specially constructed steel box, with apertures allowing access for the surgeon's hands. Colonel Khun Son Soeung has performed two similar operations, but this was the first time he had the protection of a steel box.
Nevertheless, a mistake during the tense operation meant certain death for the woman and mutilation or worse for the Colonel. Hospital staff, patients and journalists watched the operation from the safety of hospital balconies.
After three minutes, the grenade was successfully extracted and the Colonel dropped it in a small sandbagged emplacement for safety.
SYNOPSIS: Preparations for a tense and hideous medical operation outside Phnom Panh's military hospital. In the continuing war in the Khmer Republic, both sides use the M79 grenade launcher. It fires a projectile about the size of a hen's egg which is capable of embedding itself in the human body. A victim last month was the wife of a solider, who was hit by a grenade while alongside her husband in the front lines south of Phnom Penh. The grenade lodged in her arm, failing to explode.
An X-ray revealed the presence of the unexploded grenade. And on Saturday, in a field outside the hospital to minimise the danger, a Khmer army surgeon prepared to operate to remove the projectile.
The woman's husband was beside her during the operation, which was also watched from a safe distance by hospital staff, patients and newsmen. The surgeon, Colonel Khun Son Soeung, has performed two similar operations to remove M79 grenades -- risking his life with only a flak jacket or protection. But on this occasion, a special steel case had been constructed for the patient, equipped with apertures for the surgeon to work through. Even so, a mistake meant certain death for the woman and mutilation or worse for the surgeon.
The operation lasted just three minutes. The biggest risk was once the grenade had been removed from the woman's arm -- the sudden release of pressure might have exploded it. Once it was freed, it was quickly placed in a sand-bagged position. Relieved spectators applauded a brave surgeon and his patient.