“We were desperate when we heard Muteha had developmental dislocation of the hip (DDH),” her mother Wafa tells us. “We tried so many different organizations but kept on being told the same thing: ‘we cannot help’.”
Wafa left Syria and came to Lebanon as a refugee in March 2013, early on in the war. Her daughter “My friends and family were leaving our city one by one as the danger got closer,” she explains. “It became a ghost town.”
One day their city exploded in violence. “There was shelling from both sides. Most of the shelling was on civilians. It was petrifying. There was no choice left for us, we had to leave.”
Muteha was born two years after the family arrived in Lebanon. They now live in a small room in an apartment shared by many other Syrian refugee families. All five family members are crammed into one dark, dank room. “We lead a simple life and we have to rely on help from others.” Muteha’s uncle helps the family as much as he can. Muteha’s father isn’t in Lebanon. When we ask where he is, Wafa changes the subject.
Discovering the DDH
Her uncle explains that the family discovered that Muteha had DDH very late on. They could not afford to see a pediatrician to check for deformities due to the cost, and DDH doesn’t show by the way a child walks until it’s often too late.
“We felt so bad when we found out. The doctors explained that her condition had got much worse because it was discovered so late, and so she would need surgery.”
Children with DDH have hip joints that have not been formed normally. The ball of the hip bone is loose in the socket and may be easy to dislocate. If left untreated, DDH can lead to pain and osteoarthritis by early adulthood. It may produce a difference in leg length – and causes children to often shut themselves away from society for fear of being bullied. Wafa did not want this for her young daughter. She wanted her to lead a happy life, free of pain.
Treatment for an orthopedic deformity like DDH would have been free in Syria. But the family had to flee for their own safety and came to Lebanon. After constantly being told that no one could help them, the family tried to pay for the medical treatment themselves, but the surgical procedure was too expensive and they would never be able to afford it. Eventually, however, someone recommended they contact INARA.
INARA’s first DDH case
Muteha will be one of INARA’s first DDH case. We recently launched a new project to help refugee children with orthopedic conditions (including clubfoot as well).
When we introduced her to our doctor at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), Dr Taha, he explained that the late diagnosis of Muteha’s DDH would mean that her surgery would be expensive and take a considerable amount of time.
Muteha would initially need an MRI to ensure that there are no neurological risks on the success of the surgery. Once that has taken place, doctors will cut a part of her pelvis and install metal rods to ensure the hip is placed in the correct position. Following that, Muteha would have a cast for five to six weeks, and then would have a final surgery to remove the metal rods. Following this, Muteha faces a brighter and healthier future.
Wafa and her family are so grateful to INARA for the help that we can offer to them. “What you are doing is helping to fix families. For me as a mother, my happiness is completely dependent on how well my children are doing. I can finally rest easy.”
Wafa also wanted to thank everyone involved in this process. “Everyone has helped to make this happen. From INARA’s employees to donors to doctors. You’ve given us hope once again for the future.”
Muteha's treatment was funded by UNICEF.