Hiba Sahwel, Gaza, October 2010
Hiba Sahwel is a ten year girl who lives in Gaza with her parents and five siblings. She suffers from a number of health issues, including a very complicated condition of the eye.
Hiba was born with Epilepsy and she also has a weakness in the muscles of her legs that prevents her from walking as well as other children her age.
When Hiba was two years old, her parents noticed that there was something wrong with her right eye and took her to see the doctor. Upon examination, it was clear that she was suffering from cataract.
Cataracts in children are ordinarily very rare. In the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), consanguineous – or intrafamilial – marriage is becoming ever more common due to the Separation Wall and the various barriers to movement that prevail in the region. This leads to more children being born with congenital conditions – such as the cataract suffered by Hiba.
Due to the scarcity of specialist care in the OPT, Hiba’s parents took her to Egypt to undergo two surgeries but, unfortunately, neither succeeded and, in fact, made matters worse. Hiba’s cornea was badly hurt during the procedures and she was left unable to see at all.
In September 2010, Hiba was referred to the St. John Eye Hospital in Jerusalem where she underwent sight saving Corneal Transplantation and Lens Replacement surgery by Jerusalem’s Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Dr. Majdy Samaha.
Fortunately, this surgery was very successful and Hiba can now see 50% better than before the initial operations, which is an amazing change to her life!
Hiba’s family is a poor one; her father is unable to work after being injured during Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. The family lives on the small allowance from the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs, so they would never have been able to afford to pay for their child’s treatment privately. All of the cost of Hiba’s treatment was covered by the Hospital.
Thanks to the many friends and supporters of the St. John Eye Hospital, we are able to give children like Hiba the kind of sight-saving treatment that will save and ensure at least their vision in an area of the world where little else can be taken for granted.
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