Ghadeer Faisal Ebrahim Al Titi at the Iowna Speciality Clinic, where she received treatment including surgery. She has made an almost full recovery. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Palestinian Ghadeer Faisal Ebrahim Al Titi, 17, from Al Aaroub Camp in Hebron is all smiles. She can now wear a blouse and skirt like any other teenager her age, thanks to the extensive surgery she underwent in Dubai with the help of the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) to reconstruct her chest and torso, which had third degree burns.

The two-part complicated reconstructive surgery was conducted free-of-charge by the Carole Azzam, a Belgian Board certified Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon at the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, in the Dubai Health Care City with the anaesthetologists Dr Been Gouba and Dr Piet Bekaert also volunteering the services free. The four silicon tissue expanders used in the surgery, which are expensive were also donated by anonymous sponsors.

Describing her ordeal, Al Titi recalled the terrible day when a pan of boiling oil fell over her. “I was only three years old and prancing about in the kitchen at my home. My elder sister was making French fries and also multitasking as she swabbed the floor. Suddenly I slipped on the damp floor and my hand hit the handle of the hot pan, which toppled over me. For a few seconds I was numb with pain as hot oil seared my chest,” she recalled of the fateful day when she received third degree burns that practically disfigured her chest and torso.

Her parents rushed her to the hospital and since then she has been in and out of hospitals trying to heal her scalded chest. She had two or three surgeries where skin grafts were used for her chest, but these were not serving the purpose as her deeply scarred chest required extensive reconstruction. Al Titi who completed her high school had to suspend her studies as she required constant medical attention.

Last year she was brought to Dubai by the PCRF and Dr Carole Azzam inserted four tissue expanders subcutaneously under her chest and abdomen.

“Ghadeer had third degree burns that had completely disfigured her chest and abdomen. When Ghadeer visited me for the first time in August 2013, I inserted these balloon-like tissue expanders made of fine silicon and filled them up with water. This is a technique, which is used in extensive burn cases as the tissue expander helps the tissue to grow. Her thighs were already scarred with so many grafts taken from there. Besides the skin on the chest and abdomen feels different from the thigh skin and this technique helps us harvest the skin with the same texture from the region and use it for reconstruction.” Dr Azzam explained.

Within six months there was excess skin that could be used. In a surgery that took place two weeks ago, Dr Azzam worked on the area, using advancement flaps, reconstructing the breasts and giving her chest and torso a much smoother surface. Now Al Titi, who will have to stay in Dubai for another 3 weeks to heal, will require another surgery in a year’s time that will put in more tissue expanders and reconstruct the remainder of the affected area on the stomach.

“I think this surgery is awesome and has worked so well for me. I would love to grow up to be a doctor to help people in need. I hope to continue my studies, when I am through with the next round of surgery next year,” said Al Titi thanking the PCRF, the surgeon, the volunteers and the sponsors who made this miracle possible for her.