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Surgeon From Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Returns From Military Duty in Iraq Where He Helped Set Up Prison Hospital

A Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh surgeon has returned from Iraq after spending four months with a military unit that provided expert medical care to detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

Jeffrey S. Upperman, MD, a major in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army Reserve, arrived in Iraq in April and completed his tour in July, recently returning to his duties as a surgeon at Children's.

Dr. Upperman was part of the 848th Forward Surgical Team, nicknamed Task Force Oasis. At Abu Ghraib, Task Force Oasis established a prison hospital, complete with an emergency department, operating rooms, a radiology department, patient units and a pharmacy.

Task Force Oasis was responsible for the medical care of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib, according to Dr. Upperman. Soon after Dr. Upperman arrived at the prison in late April, a mortar attack injured more than 100 detainees, 20 of whom required surgery that was provided by Task Force Oasis.

"It was an intense situation to establish a hospital inside a prison in the middle of a war zone. Our first mission was to provide emergent care to the 5,000 detainees inside Abu Ghraib, and we were able to do that successfully," Dr. Upperman said. "Once we had treated any life-threatening injuries, Task Force Oasis actually was able to set up an elective surgery program for these detainees."

In addition to the urgent surgeries, Dr. Upperman and other members of Task Force Oasis performed 20 elective surgeries at Abu Ghraib over the four-month span, including appendectomies, hernia operations and other similar surgeries.

"I am proud of the work of Task Force Oasis. The medical care we provided to these Iraqi people went beyond what was necessary to save lives. We set up a complete hospital where we were able to treat many common conditions that may have plagued these people for most of their lives," Dr. Upperman said.

Dr. Upperman has been at Children's since 1999. He received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University and completed graduate studies at Stanford and the New Jersey Medical School.

Marc Lukasiak, 412-692-5016,
Melanie Finnigan, 412-692-5016,

Last Update
February 19, 2008
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Last Update
February 19, 2008