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Girl gets life-saving care 6,000 mi. from home

Monday, August 19, 2013

A young girl from Gaza is recovering from life-changing surgery here in Philadelphia. It's care she couldn't get at home.

12-year-old Fulla Eldery came to Shriner's Hospital in March with congenital scoliosis - a curvature of the spine caused by extra bone.

Dr. Amer Samdani says her case was extreme.

"This area of her spine should be fairly straight. She has over a hundred degrees of angulation in that part of the spine," he told Action News.

Fulla's lungs, stomach and intestines were being squeezed - and it was becoming painful

.

"If she sat for too long, her back would hurt," says Hoda Mansour, Fulla's host here. Hoda is a volunteer with Palestine Children's Relief Fund, which brought her to Philadelphia. The Fund is a non-political, non-profit organization which arranges free quality medical care for sick and injured children who can't be treated in their homeland.

During delicate surgery Dr. Amer Samdani removed the excess bone, and implanted a series of rods and screws to straighten her spine. And he had to do it WITHOUT damaging her spinal cord.

"The biggest risk from a surgery such as this is a weakness or paralysis," Dr. Samdani said.

"It took us about 10 hours to complete the process," he added.

As he checked her progress, he noted, "See, the bump on her back is nice & flat."

Fulla has a big family, including 6 brothers & sisters, back in Gaza City, and she misses them.

But a little technology fills that gap -

"She skypes with them every day," says Hoda, as Fulla breaks into a smile.

She also misses school, and looks forward to getting back to her studies.

During her time in the Philadelphia area, she's gotten to see a lot of the area, meet other young people, and has developed a love for steak!

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