Doa'a: Injured Syrian Refugee, 4, Fights to Recover

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Four-year-old Doa’a opens the gate of the building where she lives and runs towards her father, Hassan, to welcome him home. Up until a few weeks ago, she hadn’t been to run or walk for nearly two years. Doa’a and her family have been living in Jordan as refugees since 2013. The family fled Syria after a rocket flew through their apartment window, seriously injuring Doa’a.

"Doa’a lost her leg in the attack when she was just 18 months old," says her mother, Lema. "The fighting in the neighborhood had been going on for a few days," says Hassan. "Doa’a and her sister Shahed were both playing just a few feet from the window. Then there was an explosion, and it was total chaos. I grabbed my girls to get them out of there.”

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“That was when I saw that Doa’a had lost her leg," says Widad, Doa’a's grandmother. "We couldn't get to the main hospital because of the fighting. With our neighbor’s help we went to a makeshift clinic. The next day we all left for Jordan.”

Doa’a was initially treated by Doctors Without Borders and received a tiny prosthetic leg. However, she quickly outgrew the prosthesis and needed additional care. “I started looking for an organization that could help us, and a friend gave us Handicap International's telephone number,” says Hassan. “A Handicap International team soon came to visit Doa’a at home and we then brought her to the rehabilitation center, where staff took the measurements for the new prosthesis.”  

"Doa’a is something of a special case," says Handicap International Physical Therapist Amer Al Dakkak. "Just after we took her measurements for her new prosthesis she fell and broke her leg. We had to wait for the fracture to heal before we could take the measurements again." In the meantime, Amer and other Handicap International staff performed physical therapy with the little girl, focusing on muscle strengthening and balancing exercises. Finally, after several months, Doa’a was ready to receive her prosthesis.

"When I saw my daughter walk, I cried with happiness,” says Hassan. “I thought she would never walk again.”

Doa’a continues to receive physical therapy. "Doa’a is very independent in the sense that she can walk, run, and go about her daily life," says Amer. “However, I have noticed that she is slightly twisting her leg when she does her exercises so we need to correct this in our next sessions so she has the best possible posture. This will avoid further complications in the future."

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