MAP-supported Gaza surgeons defy odds to prevent amputation

Since the devastating attacks on Gaza in 2014, Medical Aid for Palestinians and our partners IDEALS have been sending teams of British surgeons to the territory to conduct vital limb reconstruction surgeries alongside their Palestinian colleagues at Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

The latest phase of this project has seen the establishment of a permanent, Palestinian-staffed Limb Reconstruction Unit at the hospital, equipped and trained by MAP and IDEALS. This dedicated unit claimed a high-profile success story this month, saving the leg of patient Jehad Abed Rabo.

At the age of 25, Jehad was severely injured and lost a number of family members in the 2014 Israeli attacks on Gaza. She had since been treated for the damage to her left leg at hospitals in occupied East Jerusalem and in Israel, and had recently developed an infection. Doctors at Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv informed Jehad’s family that they would be unable to remove an orthopaedic nail implanted in the bone of her leg, and that the leg should instead be amputated.

On return to Gaza, Jehad’s father brought her to Al Shifa hospital for the amputation, but to his surprise the doctors at the Limb Reconstruction Unit said that, with the skills they had learned from the MAP-supported medics who had visited from King’s College Hospital in London, they could save the limb without amputation.

The surgical team operated for five hours, successfully removing the nail, and installed an external fixator so that treatment can continue locally. This fixator was donated by MAP as part of our continuing efforts to supply the Unit with the tools and equipment that are essential to its success.

Jehad’s case has been shared widely in the Palestinian media and on social media. Writing on Facebook, Jehad’s father said:

“After 20 months and as a result of the last war on Gaza, Israeli doctors at Tal Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv decided to amputate my daughter Jehad’s leg because they were unable to extract a nail from her leg which was causing a severe bone infection. Thanks to God, the Limb Reconstruction team at Shifa hospital had another opinion, and they operated on my daughter for 5 hours, and they succeeded in doing what the best doctors of the world located in Israel could not do by extracting the nail from her leg.”

“I am honoured to thank the professional team at Shifa hospital presented by Dr. Adnan Al Borsh, Dr. Mahmoud Mattar, and Dr. Isam Al Haddad. May you continue to assist your nation, great doctors of Gaza.”

The blockade and closure of Gaza, now in its tenth year, restricts the free movement of medical professionals such as surgeons outside for training in the West Bank and abroad. In response to the need for continuing development of medical specialties, MAP regularly brings expert clinicians and trainers from the UK into Gaza to help provide this training inside the territory.

To support MAP’s work training doctors and medical staff in Gaza, please donate today.

Featured image: The team at the Al Shifa Limb Reconstruction Unit work alongside the MAP-IDEALS surgical team earlier this year.

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