On October 15, 2011, three-year-old Mehraan and his mother were walking home from a wedding in Kashmir, India, when a car struck the boy. He was rushed the local district hospital where the staff took immediate action to treat the injuries to his legs. Despite undergoing two operations in as many days, Mehraan’s condition did not improve. Nine days later his parents were given distressing news: the operation performed on his leg right had failed and the leg needed to be amputated.
Refusing to consent to another operation, Mehraan’s parents brought him to New Delhi where doctors confirmed the diagnosis: Mehraan’s leg needed to be amputated to protect him from a potentially fatal infection. Mehraan’s father spent the family’s savings on the operation and their month-long stay in New Delhi.
Mehraan’s life had been saved, but he was left weak and unable to stand on his own. His parents, who were deeply affected by the accident, felt powerless to help him—until they heard about Handicap International.
Handicap International works in the most isolated areas of northern Kashmir, a region that has been plagued by conflict violence for decades, to provide relief to disabled children and adults who would not otherwise have access to care. Working with a local NGO, Hope Disability Centre, Handicap International supports a rehabilitation center and orthopedic-fitting workshop in Ganderbal.
“On his first visit to the rehabilitation center, Mehraan’s father seemed to have lost all hope of seeing his son stand again,” says Laila Sultana, Mehraan’s physiotherapist. “I reassured him that there was a good chance that his son would walk again. The specific exercises I created for Mehraan were designed to strengthen the remaining part of his leg so he could wear a prosthesis.”
Through physical therapy, Mehraan’s leg gradually grew stronger. When his stump had healed sufficiently, Laila worked with Irshad Wani, the manager of the orthopedic-fitting workshop, to design a prosthetic leg for Mehraan. Once fitted with his prosthesis, Mehraan was able to take his first steps.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my son standing up and walking unassisted,” said Mehraan’s mother. “We are extremely grateful to Handicap International for helping our son walk again.”
Mehraan started school this past spring and dreams of being an airline pilot.