The doctor who saved Sen. Tammy Duckworth in Iraq is trapped in Gaza. Now she’s trying to save him.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., says she owes her life to Dr. Adam Hamawy, an American surgeon who provided critical care to her 20 years ago when she was wounded in the Iraq War.

That’s why she’s working the phones to try to help Hamawy, who is trapped in Gaza with other aid workers, make a safe return home to the U.S.

“We’re shaking every tree, calling everyone to make sure we do everything we can to ensure safe passage of these doctors to whatever crossing we can get them to,” Duckworth said in an interview Tuesday.

Hamawy is one of 10 American doctors from a team of 19 health care professionals from the Palestinian American Medical Association who traveled to Gaza this month to provide emergency medical assistance at the European Hospital in the Khan Younis area of Gaza.

The group was blocked from leaving Gaza on Monday because of a border closure in Rafah, the medical group said in a news release.

The Biden administration has warned Israel against a full-scale invasion of Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where more than 1 million people are sheltering, citing humanitarian concerns.

The State Department said it continues to engage directly and actively with the governments of Israel and Egypt to advocate for the medical group’s safe departure from Gaza.

“We believe that there is more that can be done here, and this is just another example of why it is so crucial and important that the Rafah border crossing be open,” State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters Tuesday. “Not just for the appropriate flow of humanitarian aid, but also for the safe departure of foreign nationals.”

Duckworth, who said she has been in contact with Hamawy, said he and his fellow aid workers were lacking basic medical supplies and were treating people who were in a United Nations vehicle that was hit Monday.

“They’re severely restricted, is what he’s texted back to me,” Duckworth said.

“They are low on all medical supplies; they’re low on food and water. And, you know, it’s pretty dire there right now,” she added.

The Palestinian American Medical Association did not immediately reply to a request for additional comment.

The Biden administration is tracking the matter closely and working to see whether it can get the group out of Gaza. It had no further details to share, a U.S. official said.

“We continue to work to see if we can get them out, but not going to have more to share at this moment, will let you know if that changes though,” the official told NBC News.

Duckworth said she had a “very productive conversation” with Israeli Ambassador Michael Herzog, in addition to outreach to the White House National Security Council and various groups that have contacts within the region.

In a post on X, Duckworth called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ensure the protection of aid workers and civilians.

“The Netanyahu admin must work to open the Rafah crossing, support evacuations and allow much more aid in,” she wrote.

Like many of her Democratic colleagues, Duckworth, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, has voiced concerns over civilian casualties in Gaza since the war broke out last year. She has also criticized Netanyahu’s handling of the war.

Duckworth, a former Army National Guard member, lost both legs and partial use of her right arm during the Iraq War in 2004 after a rocket-propelled grenade struck her helicopter. She has credited Hamawy with providing her with life-saving care.

“I’m alive because of Dr. Hamawy and the doctors and medical folks who saved me in Iraq. He was there. He took care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself,” Duckworth said in the interview. “He certainly is very near and dear to my heart, because he saved my life 20 years ago.”

Hamawy, who is from Princeton, New Jersey, is a father of four. He was deployed to Iraq from May 2004 to February 2005, according to an Army spokesperson, who said Hamawy also enlisted in the New Jersey National Guard and served in the Army as a plastic surgeon and a general surgeon and as a flight surgeon in the Medical Corps.

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