Baby Jasmine Ammari has returned from successful surgery in the US after to save her leg from amputation.
Abu Dhabi tot wins fight against amputation
ABU DHABI // Three months ago the parents of little Jasmine Ammari faced the terrible prospect of their daughter losing her left leg because of a rare medical condition.
But thanks to a remarkable act of generosity, her limb has been saved after she travelled to the United States for specialist surgery.
Jasmine, who is 22 months old, has congenital pseudarthrosis of the tibia (CPT), which prevents the bone from forming properly and leaves it prone to fractures.
Her parents, Midhat Ammari and Kelly Rees-Caldwell, were told by doctors last November that the tibia and fibula had fractured and unless the toddler had surgery the leg would have to be amputated.
They found an expert in Florida, Dr Dror Paley, who had treated more than 100 cases, but they could not afford the surgery.
Mr Ammari's employer, the industrial services company Xervon, stepped in and loaned the family the US$65,000 (Dh240,000) they needed to pay for the procedure.
"It was the greatest gift anyone could have ever given us," said Ms Rees-Caldwell. "I'll always be grateful to my husband's company for loaning us that money and to everyone else who is continuing to help."
The surgery, which involved a bone graft and the fitting of metal rods that will expand as Jasmine grows, was successful and the family is now back home in Abu Dhabi.
Jasmine is wearing a fixator, a device that holds the parts of a fractured bone together with pins.
"So far the results of the surgery are looking really good," added Ms Rees-Caldwell. "The X-rays show the bone growth is amazing. Dr Paley says it has basically healed but he wants to keep the fixator on for another one to two months.
"Then she will be moved into a brace for support. She's not walking but is trying very hard, and I perform physio on her leg daily to help build muscle."
She said Jasmine had adapted to wearing the fixator remarkably well. "Some people can't help their reaction, it is a scary thing. But she'll lift it up and show it off to them. She's happy with it and that makes other people calm because she's showing it off."
The family spent a little more than a month in Florida, and while the couple are delighted with their daughter's progress, there were difficult moments along the way.
"The physiotherapy at the beginning was very intense, Jasmine would cry her eyes out and that was hard," Ms Rees-Caldwell said. "But you had to keep telling yourself this was beneficial and she was going to gain something from it."
Provided Jasmine receives further treatment in the coming years she is likely to develop normally.
In most cases, CPT ceases to have an effect once the patient stops growing.
"She will definitely require two further surgeries," added Ms Rees-Caldwell, 29. "When she is 3 to 4 years old and 15 to 16 years old she will need metal rod changes due to growth.
"She may also require leg lengthening. We pray she will not but there is a possibility due to losing some bone when her bone broke and losing length when reapplying both ends."
Jasmine's condition is congenital, so it is not covered by the couple's health insurance. They ran up huge debts paying for earlier treatment, which is why they were unable to fund the surgery in Florida themselves. They are busy fundraising but require a further Dh100,000 to repay the loan from Xervon, where Mr Ammari, 35, works as a project manager.
"The public's response has been so nice. The fundraising is still going on and we were blessed that people were still supportive when we were in the US," Ms Rees-Caldwell said. "A school in Abu Dhabi contacted me saying that they had done a fundraising event for Jasmine and some families continued to fundraise."
Further contributions can be made at tinyurl.com/cp4koae.