Update: July 22, 2013
Maria Aman is now breathing on her own: Read about it in The Jerusalem Post
July 19, 2013
"Her injuries are forever, for the rest of her life," Hamdi Aman of Gaza said six years ago of his daughter, Maria.
Yet, overcoming international obstacles and a lack of medical resources, Hadassah doctors teamed up with a Columbia University Medical Center specialist to perform life-changing surgery to enable Maria to breathe for the first time in seven years.
In 2006, then four-year-old Maria was severely wounded and became a quadriplegic, unable to breathe independently. With Palestinian hospitals in Gaza unable to treat her and doctors in Israel deeming her a "unique case," Maria was treated in an Israeli hospital and then sent to rehabilitation at the Alyn Woldenberg Family Hospital in Jerusalem. Since then, she has been hooked up to a respirator, using her chin to operate a wheelchair. Israeli doctors determined the only way to improve her condition was with surgery that involved technology, equipment, and expertise unavailable in Israel.
Prof. Raphael Udassin, head of pediatric surgery at Hadassah, contacted Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgical Specialist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, Mark Ginsburg, who is an expert in the surgery. Over a matter of months, the two arranged for the appropriate equipment's transfer to Hadassah and the permissions for use in an Israeli hospital. They then arranged for the surgery.
Dr. Ginsberg came to Israel to perform the surgery, with Prof. Udassin and Hadassah's Dr. Uzi Yizhar as his surgical team. The surgery required that two pacemaker electrodes be implanted beneath the breast on the phrenic nerve, which regulates the diaphragm.
After a successful surgery, Maria is now back in Alyn Hospital to recover. She will return to Hadassah for follow-up next month. By August, doctors predict she will be off her respirator, able to breathe independently.