Two Ghanaians, Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal have lost fingers and parts of their ears to frostbite while trying to cross the US-Canada border illegally after being denied refugee status in the US.
“All our hands were frozen and we cannot even put our hands in our pocket to take our phones and call 911. I was wearing two sweaters and one Jacket. Seidu was wearing a sweater and jacket. We wore gloves but they could not contain that cold” Seidu said.
For at least seven hours, the two trudged through snowy fields with the temperature hovering around the –18 C mark, without the wind chill factored in.
By the time they reached Highway 75 in Manitoba, their hands had frozen into claws. They could not reach the phones in their pockets to dial 9-1-1 as planned. Mohammed’s eyes had frozen shut.
Iyal said; “I could not see anything because my eyes were frozen and I was taking his footstep. I felt like something is burning in me”
After the men walked for hours in the dark, a passing driver stopped and called an ambulance.
They have since been receiving treatment at a specialised burn unit in a Winnipeg hospital since that 10-hour journey. Both had most of their fingers amputated due to the severe frostbite. Iyal says nurses had to chip away the snow and ice between Mohammed’s fingers.
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