23/09/2011 08:08 BST | Updated 23/11/2011 05:12 GMT

First Libyan Casualty To Be Treated By NHS Arrives In Britain

The first of 50 Libyan conflict victims who will be treated by the NHS has arrived in Britain.

Abdul Malek El Hamdi, 15, went into surgery at St Mary's Hospital in London upon arrival on Thursday after suffering wounds to his leg during the North African country's civil war.

Abdul was injured when he and a friend found a grenade among weapons stashed at their school by forces loyal to deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi. His friend was killed and Abdul sustained lower limb injuries to his left leg, which led to infection and the risk of amputation.

Shehan Hettiaratchy, lead clinician for plastic and reconstructive surgery at St Mary's Hospital, described Abdul as "robust" and said he was doing well following the operation.

He said: "When Abdul arrived he had a low temperature and there was malodour coming from his left leg, which we found to be infected. Such infections are potentially life-threatening, so we took the decision to take him straight to the operating theatre to clean up the leg.

"He has responded incredibly well to the operation and was sitting up and had a big grin on his face. Abdul is a very robust little kid and has a strong relationship with his father, who has pushed to get him into the kind of place where he would receive the right treatment."

Some 50 other wounded Libyans are currently being assessed by their country's health department, which will decide who should be sent to hospitals in the UK.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The Libyan government has asked the NHS to provide care for 50 patients who have been injured as a result of the recent conflict. Their care will be funded by the Libyan government. Careful attention is being paid in planning this treatment to ensure that no NHS patient is adversely affected.

"The patients will be treated in specialist NHS hospitals around the country on the basis of their clinical need and requirements."

The Department of Health is working in co-ordination with the London Ambulance Service and other ambulance services around the country, the UK Border Agency and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to assist the wounded Libyans.