Wounded Canadian Soldier Worsens

One of three soldiers wounded in a Jan. 15 suicide attack in Afghanistan took a turn for the worse over the weekend, likely delaying his return to Canada, an official said Sunday.

A specialized team of Canadian military doctors and other medical staff who arrived in Germany on Sunday were leaving to the last minute a decision on whether to move Corporal Jeffrey Bailey with his wounded comrades on Tuesday.

"He had a very difficult night," said Major Nick Withers, the Canadian air force doctor who has been monitoring the progress of the wounded at a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl for almost a week.

"He's a challenge. He remains critically ill."


Maj. Withers could not say more Sunday because Cpl. Bailey's family had not given him permission to provide the latest details of the soldier's condition.

Cpl. Bailey suffered massive head injuries in the explosion that killed a senior Canadian diplomat, Glyn Berry, and wounded two other soldiers.

Cpl. Bailey remained in a coma with paralysis both conditions medically induced Sunday while swelling in his bruised brain continued to concern his doctors.

Maj. Withers said Saturday the combat engineer from Edmonton was not recovering as well as doctors had hoped.

A CT scan had indicated bleeding inside Cpl. Bailey's skull was abating, but doctors found that the swelling increased whenever they tried to move him.

Cpl. Bailey was also fighting a fever and infection, likely related to the tubes and lines plugged into his body. He was also on antibiotics.

Private William Salikin of Grand Forks, B.C., also suffered head injuries in the attack near Kandahar, while Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, a Halifax native, lost his left leg above the knee.

Family members were at their bedsides "showing incredible strength despite extremely stressful circumstances," Maj. Withers said.

Mr. Berry's funeral with military honours is scheduled for Thursday at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London, England. A reception will follow at Canada House, home of Canada's high commission.

Maj. Withers said Pte. Salikin was responding well Sunday as doctors continued easing the medication that has kept him in a coma since the blast.

"Pte. Salikin had a good day," he said. "His condition has improved.

"He was able to hold up two fingers on command. He's opening his eyes spontaneously. He's still on a very long road to recovery but we're encouraged by the early signs."

Cpl. Franklin, meanwhile, was recovering from his first reconstructive surgery on Sunday. Doctors operated on his badly smashed right lower leg in efforts to try to save it. The surgery went "quite well," Maj. Withers said.

"He is resting comfortably in the surgical ward."

The fate of his right leg, however, remained uncertain, the doctor added.

"We're trying to remain optimistic."
What can one say, except to wish the very best for all three wounded soldiers.

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