Ed Ou / Redux Pictures
Photojournalists Guy Martin, left, and Dominic Nahr, right, take cover behind a wall as anti- and pro-government protesters throw stones during a clash near Tahrir Square in Cairo on Feb. 3. Martin was seriously wounded in Misrata, Libya, on Wednesday.
Surgeon Ahmed Radwan was finishing an operation in a Libyan city under siege by Gadhafi forces on Wednesday when he got the call: A man with massive bleeding needed his help.
The patient was Guy Martin, a British photographer affiliated with the Panos photo agency. He had been hit by shrapnel and had two main injuries: one to his bowel and major trauma to the arteries and veins in his pelvis. The surgery at the private hospital lasted six hours, said Radwan, a 35-year-old vascular surgeon from Cairo who is volunteering with the Arab Medical Union.
"The major vessels of the left (lower) limb usually come from the pelvis and go through the limb – those were totally cut. We ligated some of them to control the bleeding, because he was bleeding too much," he said in a Skype interview with msnbc.com. "We just reconstructed the major and the important ones with (synthetic) grafts."
"The bleeding was controlled," he said, noting that Martin was in the intensive care unit. "He's doing fine. He's going to make it, inshallah."
Martin can be evacuated, but he is not fit for a long trip, Radwan said. "He cannot stay in a car for a long time ... he will suffer a lot of pain. Still he needs fluids and IV lines to be connected to him," the surgeon said.
Martin was with British-born Tim Hetherington, the Oscar-nominated co-director of the documentary "Restrepo" about U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan; Chris Hondros, a New York-based photographer for Getty Images; and American photographer Michael Christopher Brown on Wednesday when they were caught in an explosion. Hetherington and Hondros died from their injuries.
The Washington Post reported that the group had gone with rebel fighters to Tripoli Street in the center of Misrata, scene of the some of the most intense recent fighting in the city. Many circumstances of the incident were unclear, The Associated Press reported. A statement from Hetherington's family said he was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Radwan said he also saw – but did not treat – Brown.
"His function is good. ... I saw him visiting Guy. He was talking to him, checking on him to see that he was OK," Radwan said. "I didn't get a chance to talk to him a lot. ... He was not feeling good because of (what happened to) his friends."
The coastal city of Misrata lies on a road linking the capital, Tripoli, a Gadhafi stronghold, to the key oil town of Sirte in the east. It has been difficult for Western journalists to access the city because of weeks of heavy fighting.
No one can say how many people have been killed as Gadhafi’s forces have moved against the city. Medical facilities have tallied 257 people killed and 949 wounded – including 22 women and eight children – since Feb. 19, Human Rights Watch reported last week.
Misrata's opposition media committee reported late Thursday that Tripoli Street had been taken by the rebel fighters, a key breakthrough in ridding the area of Gadhafi snipers. A spokesman reported five deaths and 27 injuries, though it was not clear if those were of opposition fighters or Gadhafi forces.
"There are a lot of losses," said Radwan, who has been in Misrata for 15 days. "The price of this achievement is a lot of dead bodies, and a lot of blood."
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Libyan rebels are paying a heavy price for resisting Gadhafi forces in Misrata. NBC's Richard Engel reports.