Nima Freij Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: An 18-year-old Gaza war victim has arrived to Dubai for a reconstructive surgery for her leg, which was severely injured after a large explosion went off beside her during the conflict in Gaza in 2009.

Nima Freij is expected to receive the much needed reconstructive surgery that she was unable to obtain in Gaza with full support from the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), an international, non-political, non-profit, non-religious organisation dedicated to healing the wounds of war in the Middle East.

Freij, who was 11 years old on January 5, 2009, and her brother, were walking to their neighbour’s house when a bomb dropped, resulting in a large explosion that severely disfigured and crushed a part of Freij’s right leg. Freij’s brother, who was walking ahead of her, sustained minor injuries; however, she suffered extensive skin and muscle loss and a severe disfiguring injury to her right leg. She recalls the incident as “the scariest day of her life”.

Her initial treatment and surgery took place in Gaza, followed by multiple skin grafting procedures that were performed in Saudi Arabia ten days after the first surgery.

Having gauged the on-ground situation, limited medical facilities and expertise required for her treatment in Gaza, the PCRF referred her case to the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital (AACSH) in Dubai to ensure optimal recovery.

Freij has arrived safely in the UAE with the support of Etihad Airways, and has been receiving all kinds of support from PCRF volunteers who are hosting her in Dubai and coordinating with her and the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital (AACSH) in Dubai for her medical needs.

The Bioscience Clinic Middle East has also come to her aid by providing her with the lab work required to harvest the fat that will be used in her surgery.

Dr Matteo Vigo, chief of Surgery, Chief Medical Officer and plastic surgeon at AACSH, who is overlooking her medical treatment at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital, said the explosion partially removed her right calf that was grafted with skin removed from her thigh.

“Now the calf has a big depression in the middle area that can be filled with fat enriched with autologous stem cells from the same patient. This treatment will allow the fat to enhance the shape, filling the depression and at the same time will allow the stem cells to improve the quality of the skin through cellular regeneration. The procedure will be the first one out of a minimum three to be done at three months’ distance from one to other. All treatments will be done at the AACSH in Dubai Healthcare City,” he said.

Freij hopes the surgery will give her and her family a better life. She considers this the first step in improving her life. She also intends on studying law in the future.

The PCRF has helped many children in the past by providing them with much needed medical care in the UAE when it is not available to them in Palestine.