Christian ‘Rangers’ fought to save boy hit by shrapnel

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Utaing Shwe was going about his normal morning on 7 February 2024. His sons and their

Boy hit by shrapnel near femoral artery (photo:FBR)

children lived in the two houses adjacent to his. He was stoking the fire to prepare breakfast when he began to hear the first rifle cracks and artillery booms of the morning.

Since the coup in Myanmar in February 2021, civil war had raged around his home. Shwe had gotten used to it, booms in the distance were part of a normal day.

Shwe reported that the volume of fire increased significantly around 8:00am. Shwe gathered his wife, his daughter, his son in-law, his grandson (Kysaing Phyo), and his granddaughter under his house, using it as cover from the explosions and shrapnel of the airstrikes above. They decided to hide until the battle was done.

Jet’s continued to circle throughout the day. Bombing indiscriminately throughout adjacent fields and inhabited villages alike.

Shwe reported that at one point his son’s house was completely destroyed by an artillery round. His family continued to huddle together under his house, thankful they were spared. Later that day his other son’s house was partially destroyed. His house was the only one left standing.

The fighting began to dissipate by the afternoon. It seemed as if their was a lull or perhaps maybe it was even over. But what Shwe and his family didn’t know was that their fight was just beginning.

Around 4:30pm the FBR team gathered about 10km south of Bwedaing to plan relief efforts in response to the battle. Our team witnessed a helicopter approaching from the north, hover over an undefined location, and then heard three loud booms. Later out team would learn the helicopter’s target was Bwedaing village.

As Shwe and his family stayed in hiding under their house there was an explosion above them. The house had been hit. The whole world seemed to shake for a moment as they were blinded by dust and smoke. As the dust cleared Shwe checked on his family. His niece took shrapnel to her arm. His wife took shrapnel to her lower back and buttocks. His grandson, Kysaing Phyo, took shrapnel to the inner thigh and was bleeding profusely. Kysaing couldn’t walk either but more importantly he would bleed to death without medical care.

Shwe, his daughter, and her husband, managed to carry and drag their family to their motorbikes. One, thankfully, had a cart connected to it. Those who couldn’t walk were placed in the cart. The others rode. They began to make their way south, away from the fighting. By the grace of God, they were headed towards our FBR medics and team.

Locals shared with Shwe that there were FBR medics on standby to support the fleeing IDPs. Around 6pm they found us.

They discovered that Kysaing had a piece of shrapnel near his femoral artery, a huge blood vessel that can easily bleed the body to death when punctured. Shwe and his family watched, worried, as the medics tried hard to stop the bleeding. Our team was able to stop the bleeding temporarily but Kysaing would need more intensive care to remove the shrapnel and stop the bleeding for good.

The local clinic worked to remove the shrapnel from the boy’s femoral artery. It is a very tricky procedure, upon removal Kysaing began to hemorrhage blood. His family were terrified to see that this time the local medical team could not get it stopped. The boy needed blood fast!

Seven Rangers (including Taylor Carmichael, a western volunteer) had a match and bravely responded by donating blood over the next two hours. Rangers prayed for the medical staff and the boy and his family. The doctor asked one Ranger, “Please pray to your God for this boy. Only He can save him.” We prayed in Jesus name for the bleeding to stop and for the boy to be healed. And God showed up!

Our team’s medics, alerted of Kysaing’s condition, arrived at the clinic around 11pm. When they arrived blood was everywhere. Five people were working on the boy. The boy’s father nervously held his leg straight so that he couldn’t kick off the table in his pain. His mother held his head, gently dabbed his lips with water and stroked his face. Others were giving IVs and blood. Others trying to put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. A chaotic and heartbreaking scene.

Our medics sprung into action, assisting the local medical team who by this point were exhausted and out of medical supplies. The ranger medics applied a new tourniquet, packed the wound again with quick clot gauze, and applied a basic Israeli bandage from their Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK). Within minutes they had brought the bleeding under control. What an amazing answer to prayer!

The doctor called another doctor from a neighboring village. Now that the bleeding was under control they planned to amputate the leg. Two rangers helped to carry the boy to the van; the operation clinic was 20 minutes away. Hearts were heavy as the rangers hugged the parents and prayed for them as they climbed into the car with their son. How could this be happening? This boy is so young. Even if he survives he will likely live without a leg.

The rangers remaining at the clinic **exhausted and discouraged.** When they got back to camp in the early hours of the morning they prayed in Jesus name for the medical staff, the boy, and the family. “Please Jesus, let us see this boy alive tomorrow!”

The next day, 8 February, a small team decided to make rounds and visit the local clinics to pray for the staff and patients. After such a heavy day of fighting the day before we felt like the encouragement would be needed. Upon arriving at the first clinic our hearts jumped for joy at seeing the boy and his whole family.

The boy wasn’t just alive, he also still had his leg! Praise God! The grandmother who took shrapnel in her side and buttocks was stable and talking. The granddaughter was walking around with some bandages on her arms. The parents were by the side of their son. They no longer had to hold him down, the pain and panic of the night before was fading, what was left was smiles and relief.

The first thing the doctor said was, “The boy needed seven units of blood last night. Without the blood the rangers donated he would not have made it.” Praise Jesus! This victory was His working through so many. He used plans approved and developed by leaders of FBR to get the medics to where they were needed in Bwedaing. He used the skills of our medics and the local medical staff to save Kysaing’s life. He used the medical supplies bought with funds donated by supporters to stop the bleeding. And He even used cameras and writers to get this story to you. Praise Jesus that He gives us all a place in His redemptive work.

Finally, He used the blood of the rangers, maybe the most precious thing they could give, to sustain the boy’s life. The blood given by the Rangers is a wonderful reminder of a truth that bridges this world into the next. It’s a truth as old as time yet never loses its power. We sang about this truth together in Karen and English two Sundays before at our little ad hoc church service.

“What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” This wholeness is in every form – mind, spirit, and body. We pray, that Jesus’ blood bring wholeness to these communities and to us.

Each day we had prayed to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. Jesus answered that prayer the night Shwe and his family biked into our camp. And praise God that Shwe’s story is just one example of many. To God be all the glory!

Thank you for your continued support in every way! Prayer, supplies, encouragements, and beyond! Jesus is with you!

This story was part of a larger month long mission conducted by ranger teams from multiple regions of Karen State. In that time they were able to do a lot of good for the people of Burma. Here are some of their accomplishments:

Thirty-five villages and communities in Karen State helped, and 16 large group presentations of the Gospel.

Eight medical clinics hosted treating 1,109 patients who don’t have easy access to medical care.

Ten Good Life Club programs hosted to give hope to children and families in the midst of the war.

601 people displaced from their homes because of the conflict helped with money, supplies, and medical care.

(Note: edited for length)


Love each other
Unite and work for freedom, justice and peace
Forgive and do not hate each other
Pray with faith, Act with courage
Never surrender

The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) mission is to provide hope, help and love to internally displaced people inside Burma, Sudan, Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria regardless of ethnicity or religion. Using a network of indigenous field teams, FBR reports on human rights abuses, casualties and the humanitarian needs of people who are under oppression. FBR provides medical, spiritual and educational resources for IDP communities as they struggle to survive attacks.

For more information, please visit www.freeburmarangers.org

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