‘She is my gift from God’: Syrian baby gets life-saving surgery in Jordan – National


AMMAN, Jordan — Sara al-Matoura watched by a window as her one-year-old daughter’s chest heaved up and down underneath a tangle of medical wires.

The 22-year-old mom from the Syrian metropolis of Homs hadn’t eaten for a day and stayed up all evening at a hospital within the Jordanian capital, Amman, holding her daughter, imagining the scalpel reducing her child’s chest open.

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Al-Matoura, who fled the Syrian battle for Jordan in 2012, was solely 4 months pregnant together with her second little one when she discovered the child had a congenital coronary heart defect generally known as tricuspid atresia, which has a mortality charge of 90 p.c earlier than age 10.

On this March 5, 2018 picture, Syrian refugees Alaa Zatima and Sara al-Matoura have a look at their one-year-old daughter Eman Zatima after her surgical procedure.

Raad Adayleh/AP

Jordanian medical doctors inspired her to abort the fetus. Al-Matoura refused. “She is my reward from God,” she stated. She named her daughter Eman — “religion” in Arabic.

Final week, Eman obtained life-saving open coronary heart surgical procedure, one among eight cardiac operations that Italian pediatric surgeons from the Vatican’s Bambino Gesu Hospital got here to carry out without spending a dime in Jordan.

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Dozens of different Syrian refugees with most cancers, coronary heart defects and different advanced situations go untreated every month due to funding constraints, in keeping with U.N. officers. The costlier the therapy, the extra probably their funding requests might be turned down. Even main care and primary providers comparable to little one supply are more and more unaffordable.

In this Feb. 22, 2018 photo, one-year-old Syrian refugee Eman is held by her mother, Sara al-Matoura, as they pose in their home in Jerash, Jordan.

On this Feb. 22, 2018 picture, one-year-old Syrian refugee Eman is held by her mom, Sara al-Matoura, as they pose of their residence in Jerash, Jordan.

Raad Adayleh/AP

Some 5.5 million Syrians have fled their homeland since 2011, most settling within the area. Jordan at the moment hosts greater than 650,000 Syrians registered by the U.N. refugee company, although the federal government estimates the variety of Syrians within the nation is twice as excessive.

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Seven years into the Syria battle, with European and American doorways more and more shut to refugees and no indicators of peace in Syria, neighboring international locations like Jordan are reducing sources for Syrians, saying they can’t even afford to care for their very own individuals.

Whereas Eman was within the working room, one other Syrian mom in Amman tried to maintain her 12-year-old son Tamer from transferring an excessive amount of, afraid that his lips and arms would flip blue.

She fled the Damascus suburb of jap Ghouta on the primary day of the chemical assaults in 2013.

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“They began at three a.m. and I left at eight within the morning,” she stated of the assaults, talking on situation of anonymity for concern of repercussions for her relations in Syria. She introduced her three boys, together with a two-week-old child, to Jordan.

Tamer, her second son, additionally has a congenital coronary heart defect. When he strikes an excessive amount of, he loses his breath and turns blue.

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Kids together with his situation ought to obtain an operation at age 5 or 6, in keeping with Dr. Iyad al-Ammouri, pediatric heart specialist on the College of Jordan Hospital.

However Tamer’s ultimate surgical procedure prices as much as $28,000, way over his mom can afford. She helps her sons alone, together with her husband nonetheless trapped in Syria.

Jordan used to subsidize Syrians’ charges at authorities well being amenities, so that they paid the identical as uninsured Jordanians. However the subsidies have been cancelled in February, which means refugees should pay two to 5 instances extra for life-saving interventions.

In the meantime, extreme situations like most cancers and coronary heart illness are topic to a particular medical doctors’ committee that sifts by a whole bunch of instances every month, deciding which few to help based mostly on standards together with vulnerability, prognosis and value.

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Late-stage most cancers sufferers are sometimes provided palliative care. Costly surgical procedures like Eman’s, which might have price $21,000, are additionally delayed.

“In fact individuals come again month after month and apply once more, as a result of they’re determined,” stated Dr. Adam Musa, a U.N. public well being officer who sits on the committee.

“It’s painful.”

In January, 60 out of 143 refugee purposes for emergency assist have been authorized. The United Nations gave them roughly $2,000 every. There wasn’t sufficient funding for the remaining, Musa stated.

Younis al-Hariri, an eight-year-old from Daraa, is a type of unfunded instances.

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His mom, Ridaa, stated he was identified with cystic fibrosis and different liver situations 4 years in the past, and now wants a $565,000 transplant. She already owes $18,000 to Jordanian hospitals for dialysis, blood transfusions and hospital stays.

Al-Hariri’s uncle, Hassan al-Turkmani, additionally wants surgical procedure for his two arms, paralyzed in clenched fists from months of electrical shock torture in Syrian prisons. Jagged scars run down his skinny arms. The 32-year-old father of 4 hasn’t been capable of open his arms for seven years. The operation would price $three,100 per finger.

“There isn’t a mercy right here,” al-Turkmani stated.

A senior Jordanian authorities official stated well being subsidies have been reduce due to an financial disaster. Syrian refugees are actually paying well being charges similar to these charged to Jordanians, he stated. Jordan stays on “excessive ethical floor” for internet hosting the refugees in any respect, stated the official, who spoke on situation of anonymity in keeping with briefing laws.

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Throughout the area, donor fatigue and decreased host nation assist have left thousands and thousands of refugees on the sting of survival, even pushing some to return to Syria.

The U.N. refugee company spent $51 million on 84,000 life-saving instances in Lebanon final 12 months, but couldn’t cowl most most cancers instances with poor prognoses, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or dialysis.

“There are only a few NGOs which might be capable of present assist for a few of these instances and we all know that folks have taken tough choices to return to Syria to entry dialysis or most cancers care,” stated Dr. Michael Woodman, senior public well being officer within the UNHCR’s Beirut workplace.

Bambino Gesu acquired concerned on the request of Pope Frances, stated Dr. Fiore S. Iorio, who operated on Eman.

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Iorio stated he and his colleagues have been additionally compelled by a “ethical obligation to assist these unlucky youngsters,” both by surgical procedure or by coaching Jordanian colleagues.

The U.N. refugee company helped pay for the hospital bills.

After Eman’s surgical procedure, her dad and mom watched her breathe, her chest coated with bandages and wires, rising and failing in rhythm with the beeping monitor.

Medical doctors informed them she would probably want one other, extra difficult surgical procedure in two to 5 years.

“I don’t know the place we are going to get the cash then,” al-Matoura stated. “However thank God for therapeutic her immediately.”

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