The first days of war in the only hospital of Mahshahr

Faeze Sasani Khah
Translated by Fazel Shirzad


Note: After beginning of Iraqi imposed war against our country (Iran) in Shahrivar 1359(1980), injuring and martyring of some guiltless people and fighters, some women attended in the hospital, where placed in frontage of war or near it, to help nurses for servicing in order to the injured people. These women had a loadable role in reducing the martyrs, facilitating in treatment and improving the injured people during the eight years of sacred defense.

Requested voluntary assistance, Ruhangiz Hayati was one of young girls, attended in the only hospital of her city and worked there as a medic. Those who have lived in Mahshahr city, a small city, a seaport and one of the cities of Khozestan, or researchers who have studied about the situation of the war, know that Mahshahr had an important role in serving for fighters especially for initial therapy of the injured fighters.

In an interview with Iranian oral history website, Ruhangiz Heyati told about part of her memoirs of those days as follows:


Where were you when the war started?

We were living in Mahshahr (in 1980) while I finished my education and held diploma in the field of child-care. When it was requested that the hospital needed some staffs to grant blood and handle the injured; with a permission of father, I went there with my sister (Shamsi and Mahmonir) and I began to work as a medic.  Early in every morning, I used to go the hospital and came back late at night.


How was the situation of the hospital at the beginning of imposed war against Iran?

Whereas Mahshahr was the neighbor of cities were at war such as Abadan and Khorramshahr, lots of the injured were carried in. The hospital was busy, messy and unsettled. The numbers of the injured were a lot inasmuch as some of them were kept on floor and corridor .Not only the fighters were injured, women, children, old men and old women but also were injured and hospitalized them. Some of the injured were cared quickly, but some of them were hospitalized for a few days, and some ones were transferred to other cities.


Where were the injured people transferred after initial therapy?

They were transferred to other cities such as Isfahan, Shiraz and Tehran. The unwell injured were lain on mattress on the floor of buses in which its chairs were taken out. Before transferring the injured, they were set up to frame a folder for their family to be awakened where they were transferred. A lady named Nazari was responsible for register and reception of the injured. She was a pious woman, and emigrated from Abadan to Mahshahr to work in the hospital voluntarily and conscientiously; he tried to continue her work mighty. He were consistently moving around to register and write the name of injured were carefully not to be omitted.


Mahshahr was a small city and its facilities was proportionated to amount of its population; did the hospital meet the needs of the injured?

No, it didn’t. It was a small and only hospital of the city, and it was proportioned to settled population in there; of course, there wasn’t radiology equipment and surgery room. After beginning of war, but, the situation was changed, and the hospital didn't have enough room for so many injured people. Officials took a serious decision to serve the injured more. Entertainment club of oil company staffs, where was at a distance of two or three streets from the hospital, was changed to a hospital for the injured, who didn’t need to be held surgery and to be transferred there.


What were you doing in the hospital?

Due to my proficiency and passing the course of injection and dressing training in clinic, I was more skillful than my sisters and women who attended in there to help the injured; I guided them about what they should do. I was already trained; that was why I wasn’t worried about what I was doing whether it would be wrong or right. I did the injection of Tetanus ampule by myself for the injured whom were transferred there from the frontage of war directly. After a few days, I became as a jack of all trades and able to do a variety of works. I was able to inject serum, vaccinate, dress the soldiers' wounds and extract the bullets from the soldiers' feet by forceps. I did all works in hospital, but I didn’t just work in operating room.


What were your sister doing in the hospital?

My sisters were usually responsible for easier works. The face and mouth of most of the injured who were brought there, were smeared by dust. My sisters tried to clean the dusty face of the injured by water and salty serum, they fed the injured who were not able eat and drink by themselves, and they also change the injured’s bed sheet. Besides my sister, my cousins, like Mina and Marzieh Zeighami, also helped us for a while. They were living in Abadan, and came to force to immigrate and came to our home after beginning of the war. My cousin, Akbar, who was 16 year old, and one of the staffs of Construction Jahad, attended in the war and became an absentee; whenever, some the injured were brought into the hospital, my cousin tried to visit them quickly and find Akbar. Unfortunately, he has never been found, and it isn’t clear when, where and how he was martyred.


God bless him, actually all members of family and relative were involved in the war, and they tried to do works as much as possible. Didn’t they?

Yes, they did. It is right. At the beginning of Iraqi imposed war against Iran, my mother, Habibollah, who was one of staffs of Construction Jahad and working in public relation unit of governorship in Mahshahr, and went to Khorramshahr voluntarily and joined to defensive forces. My brother, of course, was working at cultural unit of Construction Jahad and playing theater and holding a program for reading book. Even he sometime went to Tehran to buy books. Then, because of extended activities, he was led to work at the cultural unit of the governorship. Some times before his martyrdom, when some monthly and weekly magazines spread in the city, we found them in Congregational Friday Prayer; the name of Habibollah and his friends published in the magzines. He was martyred at the primary operation Valfajar in 1362(1983). Besides him, my father and uncle also attended in the war. My father was a keeper of masque the equipment and capacity of hospital was less than the amount of the injured, that was why we requested him to use of his influence and take help of people and gather money and required equipment.

My father gathered some equipment such as pitcher, glass, spoon, pitchfork and other required equipment for the hospital and bought fabric by using the gathered money. He was a tailor. He asked neighbor women, who had sewing machine and wanted help, to bring their sewing machines our home where it was very big. My father cut to fabric and sewed bed sheet, clothe and pajamas; he gave them to the hospital, my uncle mother also made bread for fighters and helped them. My uncle usually went to office of Jahad when he didn’t attended in the frontage of war, and received flour; he brought the sacks of flour home and gave them my mother. My mother and two other women made bread by gaseous tandoor. One of them made loaf of bread, and other made the pastry flat and put into the tandoor. After baking the bread, my uncle carried them to the frontage of war.


Do you have any memoir of the injured who were brought to the hospital?

When helicopter was bringing the injured, we felt pity for them. They were covered with dust cap- a- pie as if some of them lay into the bag of flour. Before coming to the hospital, nevertheless, the injured were in good mood, and they didn’t cause the staffs of the hospital to be demoralized at all. They said:" we will be won; ask for people to invoke God to help us! "Some of nurses, who were from Abadan, involved in the satellite plan and should work in Mahshahr; they were worried for their home and family. Hearing the grievous new of Iran's some area or a bridge is captured by enemy etc., they were demoralized inasmuch as they didn’t have patience to work or speak. Conversely, whenever a new comer injured said them that they should be worried, we would be won; they got a good mood again.

A night, a few day before Khorramshahr to be captured, we came from the hospital to home to get rest. In the morning, when I came back the hospital, and inspect the names, I found a girl, who was about 14 years old, lay on bed. I was surprised to see her, because most of the injured, passed some days of war, were men. There could scarcely have been found a women. There wasn’t, nearly, any women in Khorramshahr to be injured. I walked toward her and tried to speak with her. She was black a vised and slim. Her foot suffered by quiver. She was weaken and looked pale as if she suffered from anemia. I said that he was a medic and injured in Khorramshahr. I was surprised how she had stayed in Khorramshahr considering it was in war. Her name was Zahra Farhadi, we talked together for a few minutes, and found that she was one of my distant relatives.

When she said me that some of girls stayed in Khorramshahr still, regardless of attack of Iraqis and capture of some areas of Khorramshahr, and helped as a medic, or attended in the frontage of war; I became delighted to hear words, because the activities of the girls in other cities gave me many assurance of victory. She was sad why she is sent to Mahshahr!  "I have good health, look! My foot is braced spuriously" she said. She repeatedly told me that she was in healthy body to come back Abadan. "No, perhaps, it was required to send you Mahshahr until your foot to be recovered" I said her. She was in good mood, and comforted other staffs and nurses who heard the news of different area captured by enemy, and were sad; she said;" we will be won". These words had positive effect on them.

Once, as I remember, some injured soldiers were brought there, and I started to vaccinate one of them, I found his sole of foot white and dry; in fact, he had martyred on the road.


Was the member of injured fighters reduced after Khoramshahr fallen by enemy?

No, it wasn’t. But the situation of hospital was much improved, and its activities were ordered better. Drags and required equipment were brought from other cities, and even the natural situation and snacks of the injured were improved better.


How was the attitude of staffs of the hospital towards you?

They had a good attitude toward us. All of us tried to unburden nurses and staffs of the hospital from troubles. Anyway, we attended there to help them. Even, whenever we were in spare time, we cut sterile bands or sterilized them and gloves, and we tried to use of time extremely to help the injured.


How long had you cooperated with the hospital of Mahshahr?

I worked there until 1360(1981) and got married. I joined to Sepah (Islamic revolutionary guard corps) of Mahshahr in 1361(1982). A clinic was made by Sepah and, besides its staffs, common people were also employed there. I was working in the clinic, until I retired in 1389(2011).

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