Tulsa doctor talks about treating patients in Afghanistan

Monday, March 14th 2005, 9:42 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa doctor who spent nearly a year in a combat zone is back safe at home.

As the News on 6 Heather Lewin explains, practicing medicine in a Tulsa office is a far cry from a field hospital on the frontlines. Dr Darnell Blackmon is getting back into the swing of things.

Just a few weeks ago his office was on the battlefield. "I've never experienced anything like that here at home." Blackmon was deployed for 8 months as part of Operation Enduring Freedom as a US Marine Reservist. His charge, to provide medical care and emergency surgery to troops and civilians in Afghanistan.

Work started the moment he hit the ground. It was the end of scheduled appointments and elective operations. "You could be in your bed sleeping at night and get a call to come in and you never know what to expect. Initially it was shocking to go in and see someone's leg or arm partially blown off, the extent of the injury, it was very shocking, however within the first week you're very well adjusted cause you see so much of it." What wasn't as easy to get over was providing treatment to the enemy.

In addition to troops and civilians, some patients were clearly injured building explosives, the kind used against US soldiers. "It's a little difficult when you know you're helping someone so they can go out and be a repeat offender and their job is to try and kill you." And sometimes they were successful.

Blackmon says the experience changed him as a doctor and a man. “You don't take things for granted, you appreciate the time that you have and realize that life could end for you at any moment."

Dr. Blackmon also said providing free medical care overseas made him more aware of what could be done for people who can't afford health care here at home.