In November 2016, our volunteer surgical team visiting Bhutan met Tashi, who had survived a recent bear attack. Nurse Helen Fuss spent time with Tashi, and shares his story.

“Tashi, 61, is married with an adult daughter and son. He lives one day away from Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.

“His face was deformed but all the parts could be identified. I looked at his face and wondered what he looked like before his injury. Although I found it upsetting I wanted to know more about Tashi, how it happened and how he got help.

“Tashi experienced a terrifying incident with a Himalayan black bear on an October morning while he was walking home.

“He said the attack happened suddenly, with the bear attacking his face with its claws. Tashi tried to fight the bear by punching it in the face but instead the bear bit his arm. The bear then also attacked his chest, then left.

“While Tashi was telling me the story of how it happened I could see the worried look on the faces of his wife and adult children.

“After the attack Tashi had to walk one kilometre to the closest health clinic. Even though his eyes, nose, left ear and mouth were not visible, clinic staff cleaned and bandaged his wounds, and he was airlifted to the hospital in Thimpu. Somehow he had not lost his sight in either eye.

“When he arrived at the hospital his wounds were attended to as best possible, with some initial surgery.