06/26/2014 06:37 EDT | Updated 08/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Syrian hospital built by Simcoe doctor suffers in civil war

The Canadian doctor who helped construct the largest trauma hospital in northern Syria has a rebuilding effort on his hands after the facility was hit by a missile more than two weeks ago.

The Bab al-Hawa hospital was hit in the crossfire of the Syrian civil war, and suffered damage to an essential blood bank and operating equipment donated by Canadians.

It's now functioning at about 50 per cent capacity, but surgeon Anas al Kassem said the catastrophe won't stop him from saving lives.

Al Kassem, who was born in Syria but now works at Norfolk General Hospital in Simcoe, Ont., helped to build the hospital two years ago, about a kilometre from Syria's border with Turkey. It treats hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the civil war, and was providing trauma care to as many as 4,000 patients a month before it was damaged.

Al Kassem said it will cost $75,000 for repairs, but his bigger concern is that the missile strike will deter Syrian medical staff from working there, and Canadians who have been donating their skills from wanting to come and volunteer.  

"My concern is they're going to say this is not really safe anymore… and we are not going to see the great people coming there to train the physicians and nurses in Syria," he said.

The Syrian civil war has claimed an estimated 160,000 lives, according to a civil rights group.