Imad was born with both clubfoot and developmental dislocation of the hip (DDH). When the doctors told his parents, it was a huge shock for them. “I’d never be able to afford to treat both conditions,” his father explains. The treatment for either condition is often far too expensive for refugee families to afford.
Life for Imad
Imad is two years old. “He’s our first son,” his father tells us proudly. The family are Syrian refugees, who have lived in Lebanon for the past five years. “I can’t even remember what life was like in Syria anymore,” his father tells us, when speaking about how long they have lived in Lebanon.
The family struggle financially. “If I work then we can eat,” the father explains. “But if I don’t then we all starve.”
When his wife got pregnant with Imad, they felt as though life would get better for them. But this was not the case when their son was born with both clubfoot and DDH. The news devastated them. They feared that because of their financial situation as refugees in Lebanon their first born son would grow up in constant pain, and be ostracized and bullied because of his condition.
Imad’s first surgery
The family went to a hospital, hoping that they could find some help. A local donor agreed to cover the cost of an operation on Imad’s clubfoot. However, the surgery failed, and the child’s clubfoot didn’t get any better. “If anything,” the father adds, “his condition actually got worse. It’s horrible to think that we may have done more harm than good to Imad by doing this surgery.”
His parents didn’t give up hope though. They started to look for organizations that might be able to help. It was after speaking with Caritas that they were given INARA’s number. Our caseworker listened to their story and booked Imad in for an appointment at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC).
Dr Taha, an orthopedic surgeon at AUBMC, informed the family that the priority for Imad is to treat his DDH. This will involve an open reduction and salter osteotomy. Surgeons will remove the unwanted tissue from the pelvic area, and then saw the pelvic bone to create a cavity in which the head of the thigh bone can rest inside the pelvis. This would restore the functionality of the hip joint.
Once Imad’s DDH has been treated, doctors will then address the clubfoot by serial casting, along with a further surgery. However, doctors warned the family that, as a result of the previous surgery, the results won’t fully treat Imad’s clubfoot. It will, however, deliver demonstrable improvements to their son’s mobility.
Life as refugees
This kind of treatment could have been found in Syria for free or at reduced costs. However, Imad and his family had to flee Syria in search for safety. “Our area was full of fighting,” his father tells us. “Locals who had for years lived peacefully together were fighting every single day.”
In order to keep his family safe, Imad’s father made the decision to leave. “All I thought about was whether or not I could keep my family safe. To put my mind at ease we had to leave Syria and come to Lebanon as refugees.”
Luckily, INARA’s new orthopedics project ensures that children like Imad do not fall through the gaps in medical provision in Lebanon. He, and several other children, have benefitted from medical treatment through this new project. To help other children you can donate below.