x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Surgery in Dubai for Gaza's innocent child victims

Bisan and Oday are among 51 children flown to Dubai by the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund for specialist medical treatment.

Bisan (pictured) is among 51 children flown to Dubai by the Palestine Children's Relief Fund for specialist medical treatment.
Bisan (pictured) is among 51 children flown to Dubai by the Palestine Children's Relief Fund for specialist medical treatment.

DUBAI // Bisan Al Sallaq, an 11-year-old girl from Gaza, cannot wait to see her friend Oday Al Jamal at a Dubai hospital today.

Oday, also 11, underwent four hours of orthopaedic surgery yesterday to treat injuries from a Gaza bombing in 2005.

"I was very worried about him and so I am happy he is OK," said Bisan.

It was Oday's fourth operation after a blast tore off his right leg and left him with severe abdominal burns and a scarred and injured left leg.

Volunteer surgeons operated on both legs and fitted a prosthetic. The procedure was co-ordinated in conjunction with the Dubai charity Little Wings Foundation.

Oday, who was operated on by Dr Marc Sinclair of Little Wings who performed the procedure for free, is recovering well but his leg will remain in a plaster cast for several weeks.

"Oday is a joker," said Bisan. "Maybe I will sign his cast, I don't know."

He is one of five children flown to the UAE last week thanks to the relentless efforts of the Palestine Children's Relief Fund (PCRF), a non-profit organisation with 19 chapters worldwide.

Since PCRF operations began in Dubai five years ago, 51 children have had free specialist treatment.

Shy Bisan is also recovering from surgery, conducted last Tuesday at a Dubai hospital.

In 2009, an Israeli air raid near her house in Gaza almost claimed her life. Her family tried to flee to a nearby friend's home to escape the danger, but Bisan suffered extensive chest injuries.

Iman Odeh Yabroudi, the UAE coordinator for the PCRF, said she came to the attention of a PCRF medical mission during its weekly visits to hospitals in Gaza and the West Bank.

"Last week she underwent reconstructive plastic surgery to her chest," said Mrs Yabroudi. "Bisan is having weekly check-ups until her next surgery in three months to expand her skin and facilitate natural growth."

Bisan formed a close bond with Oday on their way to the Emirates.

Their journey began with a six-hour ambulance ride to the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza strip on September 10.

There the children had to endure a five-hour wait until Egyptian, Palestinian and Israeli officials were satisfied with their permits.

"They had to wait, even though they are injured," Mrs Yabroudi said. "Then our team drove them to Cairo, where they stayed overnight before catching a flight to Dubai."

The children are staying with different volunteer host families and only one of them - 19-month-old Lana Alimoor - was accompanied by her mother.

"I like my host family, they are nice," said Bisan. "I play with their little girl. I also get to speak to my family every day."

The children were given mobile phones to contact worried family.

Bisan's mother was distraught that she was unable to accompany her youngest daughter to a foreign land for serious surgery.

Although she is thinking of becoming a lawyer, Bisan's eyes light up at the sight of a camera and she starts to shoot pictures with a natural flair.

"Maybe I will be a photographer," she said with a smile that belied her physical and emotional scars.

Next month, Zain El Dalou, a two-year-old girl born without eyes, will arrive to see a specialist and be fitted with prosthetic eyeballs.

"We don't only treat victims of the war," said Mrs Yabroudi.

In the meantime, the PCRF continues to appeal for local volunteers in various fields, and doctors willing to undertake medical missions to the Palestinian territories.

melshoush@thenational.ae