A group of Bosnians wounded in the siege of Sarajevo were being airlifted Monday to Germany on their way to hospitals in the United States, including two in Orange County, U.N. officials said.
They will be the first victims of Bosnia's war among Serbs, Muslims and Croats to receive treatment in the United States.
U.N. spokesman Peter Kessler said the 19 patients are all adults, with the exception of two adolescents and a 1-year-old boy with a heart problem. The toddler is the only member of the group whose ailment was not caused by war, Kessler said.
He said the group, which includes 13 stretcher cases, would be flown from Sarajevo to a U.S. air base at Ramstein, Germany, where the patients would spend two days before being transferred to hospitals in the United States.
"Their wounds are considered very serious and require advanced surgery, in some cases, and other forms of treatment not available here in Sarajevo," said Kessler, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
Of the 18 destination hospitals, two are in Orange County and one is in Long Beach.
Jeff Snyder, a spokesman for National Medical Enterprises in Santa Monica, which owns hospitals in Long Beach, Los Alamitos and 12 other sites receiving the wounded Bosnians, said that one orthopedic patient is scheduled to arrive later this week at Los Alamitos Medical Center, a general acute-care hospital. Another patient will go to Long Beach Community Hospital, he said.
"Each patient was evaluated in Sarajevo by an international medical team, and they will be matched to a hospital, depending on the clinical case and the clinical specialty of a physician that would be available at each hospital," Snyder said.
The NME hospitals and physicians are donating their services, Snyder said.
UCI Medical Center in Orange will also receive a patient, according to wire reports, but officials there could not confirm that information Monday.
"We have no indication that anyone is coming as of this moment," said Fran Tardiff, a hospital spokeswoman. "That doesn't mean no one is coming. It's just that we don't have any information about these patients coming to UCI."
U.N. spokesman Kessler said he hopes the airlift will be the first of several to the United States.