UAE: This Gazan mother left 5 children behind to save 8-year-old with cancer

The Palestinian woman, who flew to Abu Dhabi on a special charter flight from Al Arish, is thankful to UAE and hopes one day she can reunite with her family

by

Nasreen Abdulla

/

Ashwani Kumar

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Palestinian mother Amna with her eight-year-old daughter, Mesk. Photo: Shihab
Palestinian mother Amna with her eight-year-old daughter, Mesk. Photo: Shihab

Published: Wed 22 Nov 2023, 8:57 AM

Last updated: Wed 22 Nov 2023, 11:48 PM

Leaving her five children in war-ravaged Gaza, Palestinian mother Amna hurriedly packed a few clothes into a polythene bag along with a CD containing her cancer-stricken daughter's brain scan. She rushed out from the refugee camp to the UAE mission, seeking help for her eight-year-old daughter.

The dire situation took a turn when a timely directive from the UAE President offered a glimmer of hope to Amna and others like her, paving the way for medical treatment for injured Palestinian children and cancer patients in Abu Dhabi. Among them was Amna's eight-year-old daughter Mesk, who had been denied lifesaving chemo sessions for months. Their journey from a refugee camp, crossing the Rafah Border to Egypt's Al Arish Airport and eventually reaching Abu Dhabi, became a symbol of resilience amid adversity.

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When Mesk was wheeled into an ambulance at the Abu Dhabi airport on Tuesday morning and taken to Burjeel Medical City (BMC), Amna heaved a sigh of relief. Her months of worries surrounding her daughter's health were finally coming to an end.

Mesk wheeled into an ambulance at the Abu Dhabi airport. Photo: Shihab
Mesk wheeled into an ambulance at the Abu Dhabi airport. Photo: Shihab

"Our house was destroyed in the bombing. We moved to a refugee camp. All hospitals in Gaza have been destroyed, leaving us nowhere for treatment," Amna told Khaleej Times.

Mesk missed her chemotherapy sessions following the Israeli bombardment, which destroyed her home and hospital, where she was receiving medical care.

“We can’t contact the hospital or doctor because there was no phone service. I heard my doctor’s house was bombed. I don’t know where he is now,” Amna said.

The mother turned silent when asked if they could have two meals a day. Avoiding eye contact, she didn’t want to reveal that they often went without food. “We couldn’t continue her treatment there,” Amna replied, reverting the conversation to Mesk's chemo sessions.

Earlier this month, the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, issued an urgent directive to provide medical care for 1,000 Palestinian children from the Gaza Strip and also treat 1,000 cancer patients in hospitals in the UAE.

On Tuesday, a second batch of sick and injured patients from Palestine was flown in on a special Etihad Airways charter flight from Al Arish.

Mesk carried into an ambulance at the Abu Dhabi airport. Photo: Shihab
Mesk carried into an ambulance at the Abu Dhabi airport. Photo: Shihab

Dr Zainul Aabideen, who accompanied the patients on the flight, noted that as the cure rate for leukemia is high, the UAE’s humanitarian initiative will be a blessing for needy children.

“Mesk is battling a low-grade glioma as part of her neurofibromatosis, undergoing weekly chemotherapy for the past year in Gaza. Due to the war, she missed her treatment last month. That is why she approached the UAE mission, which helped us to bring her here. Now our priority is to restart her treatment and see how her body reacts to it,” said Dr Aabideen, the consultant and head of paediatric haematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplant, at BMC under Burjeel Holdings.

Dr Zainul Aabideen with Mesk
Dr Zainul Aabideen with Mesk

Dr Aabideen noted that bringing Mesk to the hospital is not an achievement but a reminder of the importance of the UAE’s ongoing mission to help vulnerable children.

“With the support of UAE leaders, we will provide the best treatment.”

Amna thanked the UAE’s rulers and the medical fraternity. “Thank you all in the UAE for helping us.”

Meanwhile, she is hoping that her five children will remain safe. “I hope that we are able to stay together soon,” the mother added.

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