Dr Redha Souilamas with Mohammad Qasim (left) who was severely injured when a bus hit his motorcycle. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: A motorcyclist, who suffered severe injuries after being hit by a bus, was given a new lease of life by surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi who repaired his severed windpipe.

The hospital’s surgical team performed a first-of-its-kind emergency operation on Mohammad Qasim, a delivery man, to repair a total rupture in his windpipe.

On the day of the accident, Qasim was rushed to a hospital and once diagnosed, he was transferred to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, which has the expertise and facilities to perform the life-saving surgery.

Dr Redha Souilamas, Chair of Thoracic Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi who led the operation, said, “This was a first-of-its-kind operation.”

“When we looked at the CT scan before the surgery, we could see that a large section of the windpipe was completely gone, and the full extent of the damage only became apparent during the surgery. Given Qasim’s injuries, we had to develop a new approach to bridge the gap while he was in the operating room,” he said.

He added that usually doctors have to perform these types of surgeries within 24 to 48 hours to repair the damage, but in Qasim’s case four days had passed, heightening the urgency.

A new way

The six-hour surgery saw the surgical team develop a novel approach to bridging the gap in the patients windpipe. The complex procedure required doctors to connect Qasim to an artificial lung machine before they could safely operate on his airway.

During the operation, surgeons repaired Qasim’s airway by using a metal stent to bridge the gap caused by the accident and reconnect his windpipe, a technique never attempted before.

Conventional windpipe repair techniques used for more minor injuries or non-emergency surgeries to remove tumours require significant advance planning. Traditionally, surgeons remove a damaged or diseased section of the windpipe and bridge the gap by transplanting a section from a deceased donor, something that was not possible in an emergency case like Qasim’s.

“I’ve never seen a case like Qasim’s, where a patient with a total rupture of the windpipe continues to breathe on their own for so long. He was in a critical situation with very little time remaining to save his life. Fortunately, we have a highly specialised and experienced team to deal with such complex cases,” said Dr Souilamas.

Following his operation, Qasim was moved to the intensive care unit where he remained on an artificial lung machine. He has subsequently recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital, with ongoing support from specialists.

“I am happy to be alive and very grateful to Dr Souilamas and the whole team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for saving my life. I am amazed at all the help the hospital and staff continue to offer me as I recover,” said Qasim.