NAT 190701 Al Zahra Hospital2-1562585356324
Dr.Nadeem Akhtar, Consultant Plastic Surgeon of Al-Zahra Hospital Sharjah, checking Mustafa Sawas heel also seen his father Eamd Sawas at Al-Zahra Hospital Sharjah on 01 JULY 2019 photo; Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News Image Credit:

Sharjah: A 14-year-old Syrian boy in Sharjah has made a full recovery after his father put a large piece of his son’s sliced off heel on ice and rushed him to hospital where doctors successfully reattached it.

In March, Mustafa Sawas accidentally stepped on a broken light bulb near a swimming pool. The glass sliced off a major portion of Mustafa’s right heel. The glass also made a significant cut in his left foot.

His father Emad Sawas, 50, was called and he rushed to the scene. An ambulance took Mustafa to a hospital in Sharjah. Sawas meanwhile put the piece of heel on ice.

Sawas told Gulf News that doctors at the hospital, which he declined to name, said “they would not be able to do anything as the heel is already gone. They said a major operation was the only option”.

Mustafa received stitches for his left foot’s wound at the hospital.

Not satisfied with the hospital’s response, Sawas took Mustafa — and the piece of heel on ice in a bag — to Al Zahra Hospital Sharjah.

‘Quite fortuitous’

They came to the hospital’s dermatology department where Mustafa was initially seen by a consultant dermatologist, who called consultant plastic surgeon Dr Nadeem Akthar.

NAT 190701 Al Zahra Hospital3-1562585357901
Mustafa Sawas heel at Al-Zahra Hospital Sharjah on 01 JULY 2019 photo; Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

“It was quite fortuitous because I was actually close to going home. [Sawas] showed me the piece of the heel; [Mustafa] was in a wheelchair with his foot bandaged,” Dr Akhtar said.

There was no time to spare as around five hours had elapsed since the incident and they only had around an hour’s window remaining to reattach the piece, which Dr Akhtar had assessed as the best course of action.

“The heel is a super-specialised piece of tissue and the best chance is to try to save it by putting it back on … If that hadn’t worked, we would have had to do a much more complex operation. Because the heel is a super-specialised piece of tissue, you would have to get a durable tissue from somewhere else,” said Dr Akhtar.

“We don’t want to put scars on children and subject them to a bigger operation needlessly, and I think the family was offered that at the other hospital they originally went to. I felt that isn’t appropriate.”

100% success

After explaining the situation and receiving consent from Mustafa’s parents, Dr Akhtar performed the surgery to reattach the piece of heel, which “worked 100 per cent”.

NAT 190701 Al Zahra Hospital4-1562585360250
( LTO R) Eamd Sawas,Mustafa Sawas and Dr.Nadeem Akhtar, Consultant Plastic Surgeon of Al-Zahra Hospital Sharjah during the interview with Gulf News at Al-Zahra Hospital Sharjah on 01 JULY 2019 photo; Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

Mustafa, a grade eight student at Al Noor International School in Sharjah, has since made a complete recovery and is playing football.

Dr Akhtar said: “Dad did everything right … he brought in the piece of heel, he gave it a chance. He could have said, ‘it’s not going to work’ and thrown it away. Mustafa would have had a hole in his foot, which we would have to do a much bigger operation on to fix, and he wouldn’t be where he is today”.

‘Very painful’

Recalling the pain of March’s incident, Mustafa said on a scale of one to 10, his pain level was 20. However, he bore it with patience.

NAT 190701 Al Zahra Hospital6-1562585362641
Dr.Nadeem Akhtar, Consultant Plastic Surgeon of Al-Zahra Hospital Sharjah during the interview with Gulf News at Al-Zahra Hospital Sharjah on 01 JULY 2019 photo; Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

“Mustafa is a brave young lad, he took it well. He didn’t panic, he didn’t cry; he was quite stoic,” Dr Akhtar said.

Sawas, who is an engineer in Sharjah, said: “It was a very painful time for us as a family and for my son. We can’t believe our eyes he’s gotten his foot back to normal. We thank God and all staff of Al Zahra Hospital Sharjah, especially Dr Akhtar.”

What to do in such a situation

  • Pick up the skin tissue
  • Gently clean it; brush off any dirt on it
  • Place it in a clean container
  • Do not put tissue on ice or in water
  • Put the container into a bag, like a food bag, filled with ice and water
  • Make sure the container and bag are sealed
  • Seek immediate medical help with your local doctor or hospital

Source: Dr Nadeem Akhtar, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Al Zahra Hospital Sharjah