ABU DHABI // When four-year-old Amna Abdelkader's finger was almost severed in a horrific accident at school, her parents feared the worst. The damage, they thought, could be irreparable.
But thanks to the skill of a team of surgeons at Mafraq Hospital, Amna's recovery is so complete that she could even grow up to be a pianist.
Amna fell on to a glass tabletop at her school in Al Ain last December, and used her left hand to break the fall. The glass broke and nearly severed her ring finger, cutting through bones, nerves and tendons and leaving the finger hanging by a thin strip of skin. The little girl's index and middle fingers also suffered deep cuts.
Dr Anna Moon remembers vividly the day an ambulance rushed Amna from Al Ain Hospital to Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi.
"It was a Wednesday afternoon, just before the UAE National Day and the three-day weekend," Dr Moon said.
"I took the little girl straight to the operating theatre. Her index and middle fingers needed microscopic repair, some bone fixation and tendon repair. But her ring finger required a lot of work."
It took a team of surgeons seven hours to re-attach the finger.
First, Dr Moon attended to the bone and re-attached the two tendons in the finger. Then, using a microscope, she repaired the artery that brings blood into the finger and the veins that take blood out.
"It is hard enough to do this for an adult, whose veins are 1mm in diameter, but for a child of Amna's age the size is half that," Dr Moon said.
The surgery was a success. Four weeks later, Amna's stitches were removed and Dr Moon started exercising the litte girl's fingers.
"It takes skin two weeks to heal; the skin is not the problem. The tendons take six week and the bones eight weeks, approximately, so Amna's hand improved gradually," she said.
Two months after the surgery, and once the wires holding the bone in place were removed, Amna's mother was taught how to exercise her daughter's hand using physiotherapy.
"Once the pain decreases and the child starts playing again and using her hand, through manual dexterity she is already exercising her hand and providing it with therapy, and using it more and more as time goes by," Dr Moon said.
Today, Amna's hand is completely healed, and the only reminder of the ordeal is a faint hint of scarring.
"Children heal well, and because of her young age, her hand movement will be completely normal. There is nothing she won't be able to do, whether write or draw or play the piano," Dr Moon said.
Such operations, she said, are performed about twice a month at Mafraq Hospital, predominantly on young labourers who have suffered workplace injuries.
Amna's father, Ahmad Abdelkader, who is Jordanian, said the miracle work of Mafraq Hospital's surgical team had put a smile back on his daughter's face.
"Seeing how normal and fine her hand is today is almost like it never happened," he said. "But still, we will never forget that terrible day."