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    Health Stories

    Life-changing series of surgeries for Afghan toddler at Dubai hospital


    A surgery to correct a spinal defect has given a new lease of life to a three-year-old Afghani girl. Kaneez was born with a birth defect in the spinal cord (meningomyelocele), which affected her capacity to move and walk normally. She underwent a series of surgeries after birth to close the defect and be inserted with a shunt to reduce the pressure on her brain.

    Through the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA Medical Services) and in collaboration with the American Hospital Dubai, Kaneez was flown to the UAE to get proper evaluation and treatment, providing her and her family with a room and facilities to start the needed care.

    Before this, Kaneez was living a miserable life, unable to move the lower limbs (paraplegia) and incontinence of urine and stool due to interruption of the nerve supply to the urinary bladder and bowels.

    The lack of advanced medical facilities and proper rehabilitation in Afghanistan increased the suffering of Kaneez and her family, leaving her isolated at home with no chance to attend nursery school and getting a normal social life.
    Meningomyelocele is attributed to severe constipation and continuous leakage of stool along with continuous leakage of urine due to incontinence. Kaneez has a small urinary bladder, which aggravated her condition. She underwent surgery in India last 2016, augmenting her bladder to increase its size capacity. After that operation, the parents learned to pass a small catheter from the urethra to the bladder every four hours to help Kaneez pass urine. This added to their stress, as catheterisation must be done every four hours, or the bladder might rupture. The family was desperate and hoped to receive full information about the future plans and management of the child’s situation.
    Dr Hussein Naji, Consultant Pediatric Surgeon at the American Hospital Dubai, led a team of physicians to address the child’s condition, noting that such cases need a multidisciplinary team and advanced medical facilities to provide proper care, according to the best available evidence. In addition to Dr.Naji, the team consisted of a urologist, neurosurgeon, ophthalmologist, physiotherapist, aided by a bowel management programme.

    Abbas, Kaneez’s father said that as soon as his daughter landed in the hospital and received treatment, he noticed that her attitude improved and she felt much better. “The doctors were very honest with us regarding her condition, without too many promises, but a clear message about doing their best. We thank them for their help, but mostly their attitude towards patients.”

    “Many cases of children who lack treatment in Afghanistan suffer not only because they are not being given the chance for treatment, but also due to lack of proper facilities and expertise. The trend is to keep giving different treatments with the promise of making my child better, but nothing happens,” Abbas added.

    The American Hospital Dubai will continue to provide the necessary support to continue Kaneez’s treatment, as she may come back to Dubai in a couple of years for another surgery. “We look forward to see Kaneez finally able to socialise with other children and go to the nursery school as she wants after she has recovered from the operations,” Dr Naji concluded.

    Press /Photo credits : Khaleej Times