On 22 May 2017, the British city of Manchester was hit by a terrorist attack that killed 22 people, including children, and injured 59 others. The attack took place outside Manchester Arena following a concert by the pop artist Ariana Grande, and targeted attendees leaving the area.

The suicide bomber was 22-year-old Salman Ramadan Abedi – a British man of Libyan descent – who made the bomb himself. It contained nails and bolts that went flying during the blast, and concertgoers described how they caused scraps of human flesh to cover horrified fans.

Major Tom Konig, trauma and vascular surgeon in the British Army and at The Royal London Hospital, said many of the victims would have had organs ruptured by the force of the explosion, as well as flesh torn by shrapnel blasted from the device.

Hospital staff gone above and beyond

Chief executive of the North West Ambulance Service that took victims to eight different hospitals around the north of the country, Derek Cartwright, said, “No matter how much we train our staff for incidents such as this, nothing can prepare you for the shock and sadness when tragedies like this occur.”

All routine surgeries were postponed within the area so that hospital workers can focus on the injured victims. Those observing scenes outside hospitals described how injured parents refused treatment until they received news from doctors inside battling to save the lives of their young children.

Dr Mounir Hakimi, a surgeon at a hospital in Lancashire, said, “I’ve treated exactly the same wound in Syria.” Hakimi, was born in the UK but was raised in Syria, returned to Syria to set up Syria Relief, a charity that provides Syrian doctors with training on how to deal with the mass causalities of war. Whilst there, he provided life-saving work to victims of Islamic State.

“It's heartbreaking to see the bloodshed,” he said. “Innocent children shouldn't be paying the price of terrorism.” However, he believes that British hospitals are fully equipped to deal with the attacks.

“In Syria, you wouldn’t have much time and we would have to use sedation as a light form of anaesthetic,” he said. "In Manchester I’ve got until tomorrow to operate and I have advanced technology. The patient will have a general anaesthetic.”

Additionally, hundreds of off-duty doctors and nurses offered their help at Manchester’s various hospitals. Cartwright said it was “extremely heart-warming to receive such messages and demonstrates how a city can pull together during these difficult times.”

United in grief: The city’s public coming together

Members of the public have also rallied together and are donating blankets, tea and blood and offering first-aid. Following a plea from the NHS Blood and Transplant Service, people came in droves to donate, queuing around the donation centre. The service’s website even crashed due to high volumes of people desperate to help.

The service announced on the morning of 23 May that it had enough people but encouraged patients to keep any pre-booked blood donation appointments they had and also requested those with the rare O negative blood type to continue to donate. MIMS

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