The United Nations refugee agency today handed over the first of 40 orthopaedic beds donated by actor Brad Pitt to help speed the healing of earthquake victims recovering at an Islamabad hospital.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative in Pakistan, Guenet Guebre-Christos, presented the first bed to Dr. Syed Fazle Hadi, the Executive Director of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences.
Mr. Pitt made the donation, worth more than $100,000 in total, through UNHCR when he visited Pakistan in late November with the agency's Goodwill Ambassador, actress Angelina Jolie.
"We are grateful to our donor, Mr. Brad Pitt, for supporting the relief effort for the earthquake-affected people of Pakistan," said Ms. Guebre-Christos. "This donation will bring comfort to the injured and facilitate the work of the dedicated hospital staff."
The Islamabad hospital was overwhelmed after the 8 October earthquake that killed more than 73,000 people and left an equal number injured. Casualties were flown in hourly from devastated areas in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and North West Frontier Province. Twelve weeks later, the situation has stabilized at the hospital, but remaining patients – including over 500 people with spinal injuries and even more amputees – still need a high level of care.
"It's not easy to look after paraplegic and quadriplegic patients, who are prone to bed- and pressure-sores if they stay in the same position for too long," said Dr. Hadi. "These beds tilt from side-to-side and move up-and-down using electronic switches and hydraulics. They will make it easier for nurses to move the patients every two hours."
He voiced hoped that Mr. Pitt’s donation would inspire other philanthropists to help, and pointed out that the patients will require facilities for physiotherapy and vocational training.
The latest donation adds to the support provided by or through UNHCR to earthquake victims including thousands of tents, blankets, plastic sheets, plastic rolls, mattresses, jerry cans, kitchen sets, sleeping bags and other supplies.
The agency is now in the midst of a campaign to protect people during the harsh winter by providing everyone in relief camps with three blankets each and every tent with two plastic sheets and four mattresses.