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Nothing short of a miracle: UAE surgery helps war veteran walk again after 23 years

nandini@khaleejtimes.com Filed on September 27, 2021
Photo: Supplied

The complex procedure took 14 hours to complete

In a stunning real-life miracle, a disabled Sudanese war veteran has begun to walk again after 23 years.

After decades of suffering and pain, 58-year old Robert Ruai Muorwel Gum’s life has taken a turn for the better, thanks to a surgery the wheelchair-bound former soldier recently underwent in Ajman.

The procedure — a combination of wedge osteotomy and micro vascular tissue transfer surgery — was complex and took 14 hours to complete.

Dr Faisal Ameer, consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Thumbay University Hospital, said, “When Robert came to us, our biggest task was to provide accurate treatment and help impart confidence to him, as he was not in the best physical or mental state. Due to his health issues, he had resorted to heavy smoking. This further complicated the situation because the success rate of micro vascular surgery is less in chronic smokers and wound healing becomes difficult as well.”

The patient had suffered a heavy artillery blast injury, which shattered the bones and tissues of his right lower limb.

After having spent a year at a hospital in his home country, undergoing multiple surgeries there, he ended up having a gruesome deformity, leaving him only able to crawl.

The bone infection with multiple pus-filled wounds on the leg did not allow his fracture to heal and the situation worsened with every passing year. This completely disrupted his day-to-day activities, with most doctors recommending an amputation. However, Robert and his family weren’t ready to pursue that course of action.

“When he came, specialist orthopaedic surgeon Dr Amit Chaturvedi and I took it up as a challenge. The first step was to remove all infected and dead bone and then, correct the deformity. This was done by a procedure called wedge osteotomy, where a modular carbon fibre external fixation device was used,” said Dr Ameer.

The next big issue was coverage of the wound and exposed bones. "This was done by using tissue from the back and shoulder of the patient and transferring it by micro vascular surgery," he explained. "This is a complex, delicate and multistage combination of orthopaedic and plastic surgery that requires a high level of skill, magnification and specialised instrumentation.”

The temporary fixation was removed from Robert’s leg after four months, following which, the patient underwent extensive physiotherapy before finally being able to stand up and start walking.

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Robert's wounds are all healed now and the bone is uniting; he is expected to make a full recovery.

A happy and emotional Robert said, “When I met the multispeciality team here, they gave me hope that I can walk again. What they have done is nothing short of a miracle and it means a lot to me. I'm surprised at what the team has been able to achieve. It was a tough fight, every day, every hour, but I knew one thing: if I want to walk again, I have to fight for it. With extensive care and physical therapy, everything is getting better now.”

Nandini Sircar





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