Dr. Mazen Salowm and Team with Joud and his mother
Dr Mazen Salowm and Team with Joud and his mother Image Credit: Supplied

When Joud was born in Zulekha Hospital Sharjah, he had trouble breathing. While feeding, his skin would turn blue and he would start to cough; often, he threw up frothy white bubbles.

Joud was one of the one in 2,000-4,000 children born with a birth disorder called Esophageal Atresia (EA), in which the food pipe, or esophagus, isn’t formed properly.  For children suffering from EA, usually the food pipe forms in two segments that are disconnected.

Besides having an impact on the nutrition supplied to the young one, sometimes, this disconnect can also wreak havoc on other bodily systems including the lungs.

Dr Mazen Salowm, Specialist Paediatric Surgeon, said: “On an average, the condition [has a] slightly higher incidence in male than female [children].”

Joud underwent an innovative procedure where Dr Salowm performed The Foker technique, which allows esophageal lengthening, facilitating end to end anastomosis – creating connections - in the long gap. A thoracotomy, where a surgical incision is made into the chest wall, was done on the third day of birth. Two 0.5cm silicon tubes were fixed to each end of the esophagus and connected to a thread that extracted it through the chest wall to apply daily external traction on both esophageal ends, in a bid to elongate the esophagus by growth stimulation.

The newborn was on a ventilator for six days, following a another thoracotomy on the sixth day to reconnect the esophagus.

The surgery has proved successful. The infant gradually recovered and was discharged with his mother

The parents thanked the medical team profusely. They said: “We are extremely thankful for the excellent support to us by the Zulekha medical team during Joud’s difficult situation. The moments were very tense for us and we were assured of the best care by the doctor.”