When Eyad was discharged from hospital in Syria three years ago - after he was severely burnt in an airstrike - his parents couldn’t recognize their son. “He was so swollen from the gases that burned him that we couldn’t even see his eyes,” his mother explains. “It took us a long time to cope with this.”

The gas station

Eyad, his mother and youngest brother have only been in Lebanon for a few months. They tried to live their lives in war-ravaged Syria as best they could. They didn’t want to leave behind everything that they had. It was only when they couldn’t find treatment for Eyad that they decided to come to Lebanon.

As one of the eldest siblings, Eyad was always happy to help out his mother and father. One day the family needed diesel, so he went to the nearest make-shift gas station for them. His community was resourceful and created their own station as the war in Syria had destroyed many things in his hometown.

As he chatted with the people manning the station, they heard the loud noise of jet planes flying fast towards them. The whole gas station exploded and flames burned everything, including Eyad, who was blown yards away.

Severity of the burns

“That day we took Eyad from where we lived to the capital to try and find the best treatment for him,” his mother tells us, squeezing Eyad’s burnt hands as she tells this difficult story. “But when we got him to the hospital there was very little they could do to help him, his burns were so severe.”

It was days before his mother and father could even recognize their son. “I can’t remember many of the details,” Eyad says. “It was very traumatizing.”

For three years now the family have tried every possible way to get their son the treatment he needs in Syria. But in February of this year, his mother had to face the fact that this wasn’t going to happen.

She packed her bags and left with Eyad and her youngest son to make the arduous and risky journey into Lebanon. The father and some of Eyad’s siblings are still in Syria. “We’re trying to find a way to get them to Lebanon at the moment. Eyad misses his brothers and sisters and his father so much. We all do.”

A lifeline

Once in Lebanon, the family started approaching different humanitarian organizations for help. The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) referred the family to INARA and we arranged for the family to meet with our doctors at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC).

Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah examined Eyad’s burns. He informed the family that, if Eyad doesn’t get treatment, as he grows his neck will slowly lose mobility until it is locked in place. As part of this treatment, doctors will have to do a balloon implant in his neck for nine weeks to stretch out his skin. After that reconstructive surgery will take place on the scar tissue on his neck, ensuring that his mobility does not deteriorate as he gets older.

A healthier future

Eyad fears of a day when he cannot move his neck due to that terrible day when he was caught in an airstrike. But thanks to this surgery, he feels a lot more hopeful about his future. “I advise anyone who has similar burns to me to not give up hope,” he informs us. “They will find someone who can help them eventually.”

Eyad looks forward to the day when his whole family can be reunited again, free of the worry of finding him treatment.