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Artificial limbs give Yemenis new lease of life

Patients from Yemen thank UAE for medical treatment in India that helped them return to normal life

Image Credit: Binsal Abdul Kader/ Gulf News
Hassan Abdullah Ahmad with his artificial limb. His left leg was amputated after he was seriously injured in an bomb attack and firing by Al Houthi militias.
Gulf News

New Delhi: When flying from Yemen to India in April for treatment, Hassan Abdullah Ahmad’s left leg had already been amputated and he was told that his right leg would meet the same fate.

However, the 33-year-old man was fortunate that his right leg was saved from amputation and an artificial limb substituted his left leg.

He was informed by his doctor that he would be able to lead a normal life.

Ahmad was driving through an Al Houthi stronghold in Abyan in Aden, when a militiaman stopped his vehicle for checking. Soon after, a bomb exploded and militiamen started firing at Ahmad’s vehicle.


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He sustained serious injuries and his left leg was amputated in a hospital in Yemen. A lethal infection in his right leg threatened to make him lose that limb too, according to the doctors.

A surgery conducted at the VPS Rockland hospital in New Delhi, India, after having brought the infection under control, saved his right leg.

Ahmad and his compatriot Abdu Ali Omer, 42, who lost all five toes of his right leg in a landmine blast, have both been fitted with artificial limbs.

Ahmad and Omer have no words to express the joy at the positive transformation in their life.

Ahmad said: “I am grateful to the UAE Government and the hospital in India for giving me this new life. I never expected that I would be able to walk again. I don’t have words to express my gratitude,” he said from his hospital bed with the help of a translator, when Gulf News visited the hospital last week.

Yemeni patients in India

There are 139 Yemeni patients who reached India in two batches in April and June for medical treatment as part of Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) humanitarian mission announced by the UAE leadership.

The UAE Embassy in New Delhi has been regularly following up the wellbeing of the patients at the hospitals, said Dr Ahmad Abdul Rahman Al Banna, UAE Ambassador to India.

Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said the decision of the UAE Government to send Yemeni patients to India is a testimony to the exceptional ties between India and the UAE.

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director of Abu Dhabi-headquartered VPS Healthcare that runs three hospitals in Delhi, said: “We are grateful to the UAE leadership and ERC for undertaking this humanitarian mission and choosing us to be the healthcare provider for this endeavour.”

Dr Gurdeep Singh

The doctors said Ahmad and Omer could lead a normal life like anybody else. Dr Gurdeep Singh, Senior Consultant-Orthopaedic Joint Replacement at VPS Rockland hospitals in Delhi, said the management of amputation involved two parts – medical and psychological.

Medical part is the rehabilitation of the patient, wound healing, getting him back to his feet, etc. “The psychological part is up to the patient – how he or she comes out of the mental and physical trauma of amputation.”

He said the Yemeni patients displayed very strong mental courage that helped them deal with their situation successfully. This positive attitude, he said, would help make moving on in life easier.


Losing a limb is not the one’s end of life, doctor says

New Delhi: Losing a limb in an accident is not the one’s end of life, according to an doctor.

Dr Gurdeep Singh, senior consultant-orthopaedic joint replacement at VPS Rockland hospitals in Delhi, said that with the current quality of orthosis prostheses (artificial external device serving to support the limbs or spine), a patient can return to their routine easily and quickly.

The colour of the prostheses nearly resembles the colour of skin. “If you don’t reveal [the fact that it is a prosthesis), no one can recognise it,” he said.

He cited the life of Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic and Olympic athlete, whose lower legs were amputated when he was 11 months old, but he started walking and running normally, using prostheses.

Pistorius attracted global attention by reaching the semi-finals of the 400m sprint in the London Olympics of 2012.

The then 29-year-old was known as the ‘blade runner’, a reference to his carbon fibre prosthetics he used on the track, and celebrated as a role model for disabled people across the globe.

He said India’s state of the art state orthosis prostheses infrastructure offers prostheses at the cost of between 800,000 Indian rupees (Dh45,445) and 1.5 million Indian rupees (Dh85,209), depending on the patient’s requirements.

He claimed that similar quality of artificial limbs would cost at least 2.5 times more in Singapore, Europe and the US.