Dubai: At age 13, Palestinian girl Mai Yezji is now walking unaided for the very first time in her life, thanks to a life-changing surgery in Dubai.
Roughly two months after undergoing a surgery with the help of the Little Wings Foundation to amputate her right lower leg, Mai was fitted with a new prosthetic limb and is returning to Gaza to start a new life.
The young girl, who was brought from Palestine to Dubai after the foundation met her on one of their regular missions with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), suffered from a condition called neurofibromatosis which leads to various problems, one of which is a breakage of the lower leg bone, which would not heal.
“My life has completely changed, I’m now able to swim and do horse-riding, something I’ve always wanted to do but was never able to because of the situation with my leg. I can’t wait to return home and play with my friends,” Mai told Gulf News.
For the past 12 years of her life, she has gone through a dozen of surgeries and treatments by local doctors, and by doctors from the foundation in Gaza for the last two-and-a-half years. An amputation was viewed as the most promising approach.
Life could not be more bright for Mai, said Rania Al Yezji, Mai’s mother, after celebrating her daughter’s 13th birthday at the Children’s Medical Centre, where she was being treated for her surgical wounds and undergoing an intense physiotherapy programme.
My life has completely changed, I’m now able to swim and do horse-riding, something I’ve always wanted to do but was never able to because of the situation with my leg. I can’t wait to return home and play with my friends.”
- Mai Yezji | Palestinian girl
“We couldn’t believe that she was able to recover and walk with her prosthesis without crutches or any support in such a short period of time. The medical team put in a lot of effort to help her regain muscle strength. She didn’t know how to walk using her two legs because she walked on one leg all her life,” said the mother of six.
Al Yezji said Mai is finally walking away from many years of pain, surgeries and hospitals.
“She’s free now, and she’s looking forward to doing the things she couldn’t do in the past. All her siblings are eagerly waiting to see her walk on two legs. I’m also happy that she is not bothered about people knowing about her prosthetic leg. She is very content.”
Dubai-based paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Dr Marc Sinclair, who carried out the surgery under the aegis of the UK-registered charity and in partnership with Al Jalila Foundation, said given her long ordeal with her leg which did not allow her to walk independently all her life, she was looking forward to the amputation of her leg and the prospect of having a more functional limb.
“Mai has proven to be an incredibly resilient patient. The limb was fitted only three weeks after surgery but has gone through several phases of modification to allow for the most perfect fit. Mobilis LLC, the orthotics company, has put in tremendous effort and, together with daily hard physiotherapy over two months, she now is able to walk comfortably and without support,” he said.
He said Mai, who will be leaving with her mother on May 7 after spending three months in Dubai, will continue her exercises in Palestine.
“Living with a disability in a country with good infrastructure [itself] is a struggle, living with a disability in Gaza is another story. There is no special consideration for children requiring assistance and the social norms in a deeply traditional society are complicated, probably more so for a girl,” said Dr Sinclair.