LOS ANGELES - A local surgeon in the middle of a war zone saved countless lives on the frontlines in Artsakh. Dr. Armen Hagopjanian performed countless surgeries as bombs were going off all around him.
Without question, he said this was the most difficult thing he’s ever experienced in his life.
To complicate matters, Dr. Hagopjanian contracted COVID-19 while he was in Armenia. He has since recovered and is back in Los Angeles. Just days after he returned to the U.S., that very hospital where he spent his time was bombed.
Dr. Hagopjanian said his decision to go into a war zone was actually an easy one to make, once he realized just how serious the situation was.
"When we talk about quality of life, we are talking from the American perspective. There's no quality of life. There is no life when you cannot sleep. There is no life when you can’t come out of the bunker. There’s no quality when your kids are scared, when your wives are scared, when your mothers are scared, there's no quality of life. There's no food. There's no water. There's no... there's nothing," said Dr. Hagopjanian.
Since Dr. Hagopjanian’s return from that very hospital in Stepanakert, it was hit by Azerbaijani missiles, and this time a portion of the building was severely damaged.
"You should have seen the faces of all those nurses and all those middle medical personnel in the hospital that stayed. Every single one of them had either a brother or a husband or a son at the front line,” said Dr. Hagopjanian.
Working under such dire conditions was beyond challenging. But Dr. Hagopjanian said they did what they could, they did what they had to do.
"Most of the time we had two patients at the same time in one operating room. So, if you would be squirting some fluid over the wound, you were running the risk of getting some blood from one patient into the other operating field," said Dr. Hagopjanian. "But we did not have time to care. We had to save lives."
They worked around the clock, performing surgeries nonstop. Dr. Hagopjanian said he lost count of how many lives he saved.
"Human body has amazing ability to adjust. And we adjusted to the lack of sleep, we adjusted to the lack of food. We just due to the lack of water, we adjusted to the lack of sunlight. You did not have a chance not to adjust," said Dr. Hagopjanian.
Dr. Hagopjanian along with the other doctors suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"No matter how, how hard you try to separate yourself from the patient. It was impossible not to get attached to all these 20, 22-year-old kids whose life was completely reversed from that point on," said Dr. Hagopjanian.
He said he can’t believe the inhumanity, the sheer irresponsibility of those in power. He is in disbelief that the world continues to ignore what’s happening.
"It's impossible to listen to the idiots that came to power that do not care about human life. It's impossible to listen to this from the human perspective, they don't consider human lives as their own, they don't care. You look back at the history. I always remember the famous words of Stalin— that the death of one person is a tragedy, the death of 10,000 is just statistics. For them, it’s just statistics. How many lives do we need to get rid of to satisfy ambitions of Erdogan of Aliyev," said Dr. Hagopjanian.
"You can be brave all you want, but if you stand in the middle of the field and there are 50 drones flying over your head and 20 of them blowing your head off, then there's nothing you can do. We are not fighting the war of the Titans. We're not fighting the war of good versus evil. We're fighting the X-Box wars when kids sitting somewhere, a hundred miles away from the field are using joysticks to kill people. It's a real life and you don't get a second life when you get killed," he added.