Memories in commemoration of Dr. Mohammad-Ali Aboutorabi

We Took the Emergencies to the Front Line

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


According to Oral History Website of Iran, 288th session of Sacred Defense memory night was held in Soore Hall of Hozeh Honari on evening January 25, 2018. In this program, Behzad Rastegari, Hossein-Ali Najafian and Nasrollah Fathian presented their memories of Iraqi imposed war against Iran as well as the late Dr. Mohammad-Ali Aboutorabi.


Primary care training for people
Dr. Behzad Rastegari, one of friends of the deceased Dr. Mohammad-Ali Aboutorabi[1], was the first memory-teller of the program. He told, "Our city was tumultuous, and we heard shot from everywhere as maddened all people. Sometimes we heard mourn from some streets and alleys and continuously the wounded were bringing for the only emergency in our city; what was cause for all this hate, anger and hatred for these people? Our doctors and nursing staff in our hospital were very low and everyone was worried and did not know what to do with the numerous injured; suddenly, as if the middle of the emergency became bright and I saw a tall man wearing a white gown and came to help us. I went close and saw he was Dr. Aboutorabi, as if we all had got energy, we forgot fatigue and started to work by his command. After some hours working, the hospital's telephone rang and said: Tell the doctor, do not come to his house, they had fusilladed there. The doctor went, but when everything was calm.

The doctor was shelter of the wounded and people. When the revolution won, he gathered us and said: "Come and teach people how to take care of themselves in crises. He wanted us to educate people primary care method. Some of us were tasked and invited people to a primary school hall and trained them primary care. He controlled us. We presented for the doctor educational materials, he confirmed, and then we trained them to people. Everyone knows that our revolution was formulating that the war started; an unequal war. The wounded in the war is obvious and injured also needs doctor; therefore, Dr. Aboutorabi ran to the front and we served him after Operation Muharram."

He added, "In Operation Beit ol-Moqaddas, we worked in a hospital in Susangerd. We had worked three days and were very tired and hungry; we made an appointment with the guys to go to headquarters of Jahād-e Sāzandegī and eat something there. We found a school that Najafabad jihad was based there. When we got to the school, I saw a person sitting beside the faucet and was washing his clothes; I went close and saw he was Dr. Aboutorabi. He was bloody cap-a-pie and even blood was inside his shoes. "Where were you, doctor?" I said, he told, "I was in Allahu Akbar hills, I worked there lonely." After that operation, we joined him and became a team. For all operations, they called the doctor and the doctor also called us. Character of the war was that sometimes the guys became dismal and depressed, especially in our work, which was constantly concerned with mourning and moans, wounds and injured, but Dr. Aboutorabi did not allow us to feel depressed even a bit; as soon as we became free, he tried to introduce us Islamic teachings, hadiths and verses of the Qur'an, or at times, he performed interesting games and jokes that we became happy and energetic."


Great attention and affection to the wounded
Rastegari continued: "In our medical team, some of friends were fixed and some were exchanged. According to rules of the war, medical emergencies are formed far from the front line, but we took the emergency into the front line, even in some operations, more ahead of the front line, where it was supposed to be there later. Dr. Aboutorabi and his team always make this endeavor and undertook these emergency services. One of Dr.'s characteristics was that, when he came near an injured, he caused good mood for the wounded through loving and paying attention to them and gave them energy. Under supervision of Doctor great measures were done in emergency. He didn't allow someone to say he was tired, and he himself constantly walked in emergency room and checked all beds.

I remember in Operation Valfajr Moghadamti, we had 11 or 12 beds in emergency room, and each bed had a number of people responsible for doing things; Dr. Aboutorabi walked and controlled everyone so that someone wouldn't make a mistake. When the operation was advanced, they gave us an emergency that was more ahead. It was a very difficult operation and many were wounded. I came out of the emergency for a moment and saw that the wounded people lay in emergency room and there was no vehicle to return them. The doctor's concern was that we didn't give service properly to a wounded; therefore, he allowed us never to think of irrelevant things and tried to focus our attention on our responsibilities and tasks. I was bandaging an amputated leg of a warrior that a driver came and said: "I have brought some martyrs. It seems that one of them is not a martyr, can you look at him? I said: martyrs and non-martyrs is not matter, take him and bring him here. That person went and brought the injured person. I saw both his legs were mined and crushed. I brought him to the emergency room and laid him on the bed. There were no vital signs. We put a tube in his respiratory tract and did a cardiopulmonary to resuscitate him. The doctor was passing there. We said to him: there's no use! He said, "You are now more free, keep on working." We took about 20 minutes resuscitation on the injured young, which I saw a moment, one of his amputated blood-vessels shook. I said continue. We did massage and breathe in turn. I saw his hands, which was opened, gradually gathered. The doctor said, "Continue, and we went on until his leg blood. The injured started to get suffer due to a tube which was in his respiratory tract, so we disconnected it. I asked him: "What is your name dear?" he told, "Akbar" and suddenly all the emergency personnel said together: "Allahu Akbar. That young man is now alive, have no leg and has three children.


Dr. Aboutorabi
Operation Valfajr Moghadamati was a hard operation. Emergency of Najaf Ashraf and several other emergencies were on the same track and we had retreated. Many of the emergency rooms took their equipment and went, but we did not go. The doctor came and said: "Anyone who wants can go, I'm here. A team was with us that worried due to bad news which we received. They brought a wounded and as soon as put him on the bed, he shouted: "Why did you sit?" they capture all of you now, run away. The doctor said: "As long as the wounded is here, I am here too." We were there too; we worked as the doctor ordered."


You escaped from mouth of Azrael!
Rastegari stated, "One of our hardest moments in operations was in Operations Karbala-5. It was a very wide operation, and our location was between Khorramshahr and Ahvaz, but our emergency was in the line in Shalamcheh. There was a place called Crossroad of Death, where it was viewed by enemy on three sides and was shot from all sides. We had a bulwark called Zoji (pair) levee, and the warriors had taken a position on both sides of the bulwark. We had established an emergency in the worst and most difficult conditions in entrance of Zoji bulwark. They shot us from all sides. Many of the wounded had got a blast injury. The wounded person who suffered a blast injury was worse than any other thousand injured. Once an old man came to our rescue team; He repeated constantly a series of moves. Suddenly, I saw one of our relief department officials took him from back firmly and shouted help me. The injured wounded shouted: They are Iraqis, attack! He took a grenade in his hand and had pulled its safety pin and wanted to put it on a blanket that we treated the wounded upon it. We lay him hardly and injected him a tranquillizer and took the grenade.

After the operation, we returned from that relief post. There a doctor was with us named Mostafa Sadeghi. He was almost elderly and, in a plan, had sent him to the front a month to help. He was so pleased with our team that he said he would not go back and stay there. One day at noon, we changed our dress, which was bloody, to pray. Suddenly, a mortar struck behind the emergency and exploded. Before I became ready for prayer, I had seen some people were involved with tire of an ambulance that had been flattened. I came out to help the wounded. I saw that Dr. Sadeqi had done Wudu and stood. There was very dusty due to explosion of that mortar in air. The doctor said, "The air should be clean to see what happened to others." Another guys of the university named Mr. Akbar Azari also accompanied us. We were three next to each other, when another mortar struck just in front of us. Its first quiver struck at Mr. Sadeghi's head, a few quivers struck at Mr. Azari's abdomen, and a few at my belly and hand. They took us and Dr. Aboutorabi came to me. I asked, what happened? He said, "Nothing my darling, your stomach was torn!" Prior to this, a young man whom we told him minister of power and in fact was responsible for our electric motor, a quiver had struck at his abdominal aorta, and he was bleeding. He said continuously: "I am now dying a martyr and 10 minutes later he died a martyr on the bed; it was in my mind, and I thought I also died but God did not want it. After injury that Dr. came to visit us, he said with a laugh, "You escaped from mouth of Azrael!"


Quiver of the officer
Rastegari stated: "Operation Kheibar was also one of our hard operations. One day we went to a town in Majnoon Island, which was for Iraqis. There was a movie theater that we changed into an emergency room. The third day that we worked there, they cannonaded the entire area. Martyr Ahmad Kazemi said everyone to retreat; we wanted to go back that we saw they cannonaded from everywhere. A quiver struck at Doctor; we all scattered and got ourselves to the post we were there already. We went by a boat to our previous place. One or two hours later the doctor came. He was very smiling and happy; a quiver had passed his stomach skin. He laughed and said: "They did not understand to hit where, officer quiver has not yet come." He got up and went to work."

He concluded, "Subject of medical science is human, but human beings can deal with human beings that himself/herself to be human. A doctor whom is grown up in Islamic school and is familiar with Islamic teachings is a perfect man; he is a human who really cares about his science subject and develops it. I know that on Last Judgment, when Dr. Aboutorabi will come, many people come to God and they will ask God to forgive the doctor."


Event of burning the house!
Hossein-Ali Najafian, son-in-law of Dr. Mohammad-Ali Aboutorabi, was the second memory teller of 288th Sacred Defense's memory night. He expressed, "A friend narrated that before the revolution, a grenade blew up in hand of one of the fighters and they sought the doctor." At that time, in that condition doctors did not accept to go house of a person whom a grenade had been blown in his hands. I told the doctor that he was at that home; the doctor arrived and, after examining the hands, said that fingers of the dear were infected and should be amputated. They asked how to provide equipment? The doctor said equipment will be prepared and he amputated his fingers with help of others at home and not at hospital."

Najafian continued: "December 12, 1978 (11 Muharram), because of climax of uprising of Najafabad people, Shah's regime could not control the people. So he made a special offensive and brought the guard into Najafabad. The guard pitched a tent in the city square and in an area outside the city. At that time, they began to attack many of characters of Najafabad, including house of Dr. Aboutorabi, who was base of treating the wounded and a sheet anchor for the fighters. Dr. Aboutorabi's wife quotes they had contacted Doctor and said that they had brought many wounded to the hospital, so at that time Doctor went to the hospital; when about 15 people were at the doctor's house. Of those 15 were those who had no relatives with the doctor's family and only had brought the injured to the doctor's house and, since the city was a turmoil they had not left the house. The doctor had led them into basement of the house. In the courtyard, there were also Pine trees with tendril behind them. Some people had hidden behind them. After the doctor went, two people came and knocked the door; because no one opened the door for them, they fired the door and shot everywhere. They frightened doctor's wife as she swooned. They drew a gun on her chest and said: "Where is your husband?" The younger child of Doctor, Majid, threw himself in front of his mother's chest and said, "Leave my mother." One of them raised the gun and told: I want to burn the house! He shot to the Korsi, and while some people were under Korsi, the bullets did not hit anyone. Then he reversed the oil heater on Korsi and burned it. It caused everyone rise under Korsi and escape. Meanwhile, he opened two gas capsules in order to explode the whole house. Majid's mother quotes that at this time Majid ran to kitchen, and closed both stopcocks of gas capsules. The fire caused short circuit of electric wires and outage of the house. People left the house frighteningly. The interesting thing was that the little children who were in the basement all did Tayammum and wanted to have Wudu when they would be killed by the guards."

Finally Najafian stated: "Doctor loved much Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah. When he was invited to Lebanon, I was lucky to be with him and we went to Maroun al-Ras. When Doctor saw martyr garden and then space of their city, he said: "I see a wonderful thing in Lebanon, here I understand meaning of being human and pure; our purity not in our city but in this city and country is a great job. Seyyed Hassan had some plans and the doctor could not meet him, and he yearned the visit later. When I arrived before Seyyed Hassan, I said: "My father-in-law liked so much to see you. I do not remember he have passed a night without prayer for you and Hezbollah. He always says he waits for liberation of al-Quds and this is viable." Seyyed said he is very upset and we should inform Doctor to see him. Seyyed Hassan signed a Quran as a gift to the doctor and sent it and told, say doctor he also says pray for you and it is because of your support that we fight here."


A small part of Doctors Sacrifice
The third memory teller of 288th session of Sacred Defense's memory night was Sardar (general) Nasrollah Fathian, the chosen jihadi director and officer for martial dispensary during the holy defense years. He, who had been also friend and comrade of late Aboutorabi, said: "10 years ago, I was present at the same night memories which were held before Hazrat Agha (Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, leader of Islamic Revolution). At that meeting, they asked me to tell a memory of medical society of Holy Defense. I mentioned the memory of treat of Dr. Aboutorabi with his martyr child that showed how was mood and spirit of doctors and our medical community in that shiny time.

One of the major operations of Bahman was Operation Valfajr-8, which occurred in 1985. I was in charge of dispensary of the operation. One of the biggest issues in all wars is the wounded and the most complex way to solve this is coming medical teams to war zone. Usually in all wars, the wounded are gone before doctors, but in our Sacred Defense doctors came to the wounded. It was costly for medical community, but they accepted the cost. One of the hospitals that had a prominent role during the holy defense is Hazrate Fatemeh (SA) Hospital. We provided this concrete hospital for Operation Valfajr-8. The hospital had 60 emergency beds, 10 operating rooms, 30 emergency beds of chemical wounded and 20 recovery beds, and under protected conditions that only a few people could travel, was made during six months and we worked only from night to the morning. In short, the medical teams arrived and the operation was begun early in the morning. This field hospital was attacked several times. Hospitals are not struck in any war, but our enemy disturbed all the rules.


Dr. Aboutorabi
Once the medical team was doing a surgery operation that the hospital was targeted and I testify here that the team continued to work. The hospital was located about 10 minutes far from Arvand Rud. They bombarded chemically the hospital on March 4; therefore, this day in history of the war is called Day of Resistance of Medical Society. In the bombardment, all hospital personnel, more than 700 people, were injured. The hospital should be evacuated and at the other hand, transferring wounded of fronts was continued. In less than 24 hours, the whole hospital was evacuated and cleaned up, and medical teams should be re-come. The news of this bombing had been spread everywhere, and doctors did not dare to come there. A group from Isfahan had arrived, but they hesitated to come. I talked to them and said, "This hospital is the main center for our injured, be sure that there has been cleared." They asked: "Do you come yourself?" I said yes, I'm coming too. I took the team and then we were informed that medical staff started relief operation, but was again targeted and they fired a bomb, more than 800 Kilos, in front of the hospital, as a 10-meter sinkhole was created in front of the emergency department and two ambulances with all their injured were destroyed in front of the hospital. In the second bombardment, the electric motor of the hospital was targeted too and entire darkness dominated the hospital. I got to the hospital from back door and saw that the medical and nursing teams with flashlights were treating the wounded in emergency room. The friends tried and primed electricity and the hospital went on to work again. Four days later, the enemy threw a rocket at the hospital emergency. Soil had been poured on this concrete hospital and explosive slabs on the soil. When the rocket hit the explosive slab, the slab decreased brunt of the rocket, prevented the emergency to be cracked, but it caused a tremor as magnitude as six or seven Richter. The medical community also resisted in the hospital situation. During the holy defense, more than 100,000 people from the medical community participated in front emergencies, field hospitals and relief posts, and medical community shrined great at that time."

288th Program of series of Holy Defense's memory night was held in the Center for Studies and Research on Resistance Culture and Literature and the Office for Literature and Art of Resistance in Soore Hall of Hozeh Honari on evening January 25, 2018. The next program will be on March.


[1] Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA): corpse of the late Dr. Mohammad-Ali Aboutorabi, father of the first headless martyr of Najafabad, who was himself a disabled veteran of Holy Defense and the first general surgery practitioner of the city, after being funerary upon hands of Najafabad people was buried in martyr rose-garden of the city. The funeral was from his office to National Garden, and after prayer by Hojatoleslam Mostafa Hassanati, Friday Prayer Imam of Najafabad, was transferred to martyr rose-garden of this city, and was buried in place of commemoration of the martyrs and beside grave of Shahid Mohsen Hajji, Holy Shrine Defender martyr. Dr. Aboutorabi was an altruist, committed, insightful and of protagonist of Holy Defense's dispensary, was born in 1935 and died in Shahid Mohammad Montazeri Hospital of Najafabad, at age of 83 at 8 a.m. on Saturday December 2, 2017. Majid, the only son of this committed and revolutionary doctor, died a martyr in Operation Ramadan in 1982, while he was a student of Shahid Montazeri high school. This high school is known as the "Shahidestan (full of martyrs)" of the country because of presenting more than 230 martyrs. Dr. Aboutorabi has three daughters. Dr. Aboutrabi, in memoriam of Majid, made a high school for girls at the end of Ferdowsi Street in Najafabad. (

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