Watch: UAE doctors save lives of Syrian quake siblings after flying them from Turkey in 12-hr mission

The critically injured duo was rescued miraculously after the devastating earthquake


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 2 Mar 2023, 2:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Mar 2023, 10:14 PM

A multidisciplinary team of doctors at a hospital in Abu Dhabi have been able to save the lives of two critically injured Syrian siblings, who were rescued miraculously during the devastating earthquake that hit Syria and Turkey on February 6.

Last month, Sham, the nine-year-old girl, became a picture of resilience and hope after being pulled out from the rubbles of a building where she was trapped for almost 40 hours. She was seen humming along with the White Helmets rescue group. The video footage of the rescue efforts went viral.

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Later it was diagnosed that little Sham risked facing amputation of her legs and along with her brother Omar, 15, was shifted to Turkey for treatment of ‘crush syndrome’ – a medical condition resulting from injuries to skeletal muscle sustained during catastrophes like earthquakes as a person gets trapped under collapsed buildings. It can lead to organ injury or dysfunction, or death.

“Doctors in Istanbul told us that Sham required amputations totalling 100 per cent of the size of her limb as a result of the injuries she sustained,” Bashar Aleeq, a family member, who is with Sham here in Abu Dhabi, said.

Hundreds of community members shared her plight on social media. And authorities in Abu Dhabi swiftly intervened. Under the directives of Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Mother of the Nation; Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Emirates Red Crescent Authority (ERC), and in collaboration with Burjeel Holdings, it was planned to give advanced care to the siblings. On Tuesday night, a team of healthcare workers and officials left for Istanbul by a special medical aircraft and returned with the siblings following a 12-hour mission on Wednesday morning.

Dr Maitha Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State; Hamoud Aljunaibi, Secretary General of the Emirates Red Crescent; Sultan Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for International Development Affairs; and Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, Founder and Chairman, Burjeel Holdings, received the two children. The shifting of both the children on and off the flight and to Burjeel Medical City hospital was a meticulously planned process involving different local authorities.

A life-saving surgery was performed at Burjeel Medical City on Wednesday evening by a multidisciplinary team led by Dr Michael George Uglow, consultant orthopaedic surgeon.

Sham’s life was threatened by gangrene that spread in the lower part of the body, and her brother Omar was also saved. Dr Uglow said that the medical team did everything possible to save their lives, and that Sham required special surgical procedures due to her poor condition that necessitated immediate medical attention.

“We are thankful to the leadership of the UAE and Her Highness Sheikha Fatima,” Aleeq said.

Sheikha Fatima, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, and Honorary President of Emirates Red Crescent, has been keen in ensuring world-class healthcare to the seriously injured victims of the devastating earthquake in Syria and Turkey.

Both Sham and Omar are recovering in intensive care. Their family members including father, 2 sisters and their children and Aleeq, are offering support at the hospital.


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