Dober dan my friend. With that, I have said about all the Serbo-Croat I know in one greeting. Back during the war in the 80’s I heard a news broadcast that talked about the terrible conditions in many hospitals there. They had too many wounded patients and not enough supplies to treat them. The UN Commission on Refugees was looking for other hospitals around the world to help with the wounded.
I was the director of public relations for a small hospital here in Kentucky. I spoke to the president of the hospital and he told me to investigate whether we could bring a patient from the war zone for treatment in our hospital. I talked to Congressmen, a US Senator, the US Army and the UN. I also found interpreters.
Three months later Marta Mastorovich, a Bosnian-Serb, was taken by ambulance from a Beograd hospital to a Swiss Air flight to Chicago. On the big jet she had a special place where her stretcher could be secured. From there she was supposed to be flown to Kentucky by helicopter by the army’s 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The weather was so bad that night the helicopter couldn’t fly. Marta had to travel six hours in an ambulance to Kentucky. When she arrived at 4 in the morning I had a translator waiting to greet her and get her medical history. She had all her belongings in a cigarette case: a $100 bill and some aspirin she had for pain relief. A Russian traveler on the Air Swiss flight had talked to her on the way across the Atlantic. When he heard her story he smiled and gave the $100 bill and told her to get a Coca-Cola when she got to the United States.
Marta had been shot by a sniper as she carried a thermos of coffee to her husband and son. Her right hip was shattered by the bullet. We had a surgeon at the hospital who had worked in a big city emergency room and was familiar with AK47 wounds. They can do a lot of damage. Marta was with us for two and half months. Her hip was repaired as best we could without an artificial hip. She went to physical therapy and rehab. Finally, she was able to return to Serbia. One of our nurses went with her. They travelled with an Orthodox priest I met who was from Indianapolis, Indiana. He knew enough important people there he was able to get through the fighting and to her home in a village (I can’t remember the name) somewhere in Serbia. .
When Marta got out of the car and walked up to her home with the aid of a walker, her family broke into tears. After she had gone to the hospital in Beograd they has lost all touch with her and thought she was dead. Now she was alive again.
That was the best thing I have ever done in my life.