“During an early scan, doctors told us that Mazen would struggle in his life,” his mother tells us with tears in her eyes. “The doctor advised us to have an abortion, but I didn’t want to. I would be happy for my son, whatever the future may hold for him.”
Mazen was born five months ago with a hole in his heart, problems with his nutrition, as well as clubfoot. “All we talk about now is Mazen’s health. We haven’t spoken about anything else,” both parents inform us as they sit in the office, cradling their baby child.
Leaving Syria behind
Mazen’s mother Khadija and his father Ahmad had been married for just two months when the war really started to escalate in their area. The happy life that they imagined for themselves was taken away from them by the horrors of war. Ahmad left for Lebanon to try and find work, and they kept in touch over the phone. They missed each other dearly, and waited for the day when they would be reunited when Ahmad found work.
During the time that Ahmad was in Lebanon, the fighting in their area became severe. Airstrikes would destroy nearby neighborhoods and Khadija was constantly scared for her life.
After a few months, she joined Ahmad and they were finally back together as a family. Ahmad found work, although he only gets paid a small amount of money and the family struggle financially. After two years they had their first child, a girl they named Fatima, and soon after, Khadija became pregnant again.
Since Mazen was born, they have spent all the money that they managed to save on getting treatment for him. Luckily UNHCR managed to cover most of the costs for his nutritional problems, but the family are still looking for someone to help him with the hole in his heart. This is something that we are assisting them with.
Because of Mazen’s numerous problems, treating his clubfoot was not their biggest priority. However, a local doctor at a nearby clinic recommended the family to contact INARA. Khadija contacted us on Facebook. We brought Mazen in to meet Dr Taha at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), where he was diagnosed with neurological clubfoot. We also screened him for developmental dislocation of the hip (DDH) at the time, as he had many risk factors. We managed to reassure his family when it was found that he didn’t have DDH.
To treat Mazen, we first booked in a neurological evaluation. Now that doctors have found that he’s ok to proceed, his casting sessions will commence over the coming two months. Dr Taha did explain that recurrence of neurological clubfoot is considerably higher than idiopathic cases, and so the parents will have to be vigilant to any signs of relapse.
Relief for the family
Since they found out that INARA could cover the full costs of the medical treatment for his clubfoot, the family have felt some relief. “We spend less time worrying about his future now,” Ahmad tells us. “It’s just one less thing for us to worry about.”
We are also searching for an organization in Lebanon that will cover the cost of treatment for Mazen’s heart conditions too. This is a big part of what we do at INARA. Many refugee families do not know who to turn to for help, and we use our extensive knowledge of the humanitarian sector in Lebanon to identify organizations that could take on their case.