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June 30 2022 7:54 PM ˚
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Dream of spinal surgery comes true for local girl

Leen, who received free spinal surgery after years of suffering from scoliosis, after her surgery at Abdali hospital. (Photo handout from Atfaluna)
Leen, who received free spinal surgery after years of suffering from scoliosis, after her surgery at Abdali hospital. (Photo handout from Atfaluna)
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AMMAN — “I have only one wish: to get my spine fixed so I can live without pain.”

This was Leen’s answer when asked what her one ultimate wish was.اضافة اعلان

Leen, now 13, was only five when her mother first noticed that her daughter’s spine was out of alignment. When the mother took her to the doctor, she was diagnosed with scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine.

Unfortunately, it seemed like nothing could be done; all of the orthopedists Leen saw said she cannot undergo any surgery before puberty.

“As the years passed, the spinal curve got more severe, as did the symptoms and complications. Her spine became more twisted, making postural changes and forming a hunchback and a noticeable rib hump,” Leen’s mother told Jordan News over the phone.

Leen was complaining of a chronic pain in her legs and pelvis. “The poor child couldn’t even carry her bag to school,” the parent said.

Eventually, the spinal curve reduced the amount of space within Leen’s chest, causing breath shortness as her lungs began to show some signs of atrophy, the mother added.

Medical intervention was required then, but after her husband passed away, Leen’s mother, a mother of seven, could not afford it.

“I receive monthly cash assistance from the National Aid Fund; my son works at a chips factory, and my three youngest daughters are sponsored by an orphan center,” she said.

One lucky day in 2018, when Leen was 10 years old, Masarrah, a non-profit organization dedicated to achieve the dreams of children with diseases, visited the orphan center sponsoring her. This is when her life began to change.

“Some children wanted toys, others wished for iPads but my daughter only asked for medical treatment,” the mother said.

Masarrah then reached out Atfaluna, a non-profit organization, which fully funded Leen’s treatment by referring her to Mohammad Armouti, an orthopedic spine surgeon volunteering with the organization.

During Leen’s first surgery, which took place on 2019, Armouti used the cutting edge technique of “posterior tethering” to correct and lengthen the deformed spine, allowing it to grow naturally.

The second and final surgery, called “spinal fusion”, was conducted in June, 2021, during which the spine was further straightened. The operation was performed jointly by Armouti and Mutaz Jadaan, another orthopedic spine surgeon, neither of whom charged fees.

Both surgeries were performed successfully at Abdali Hospital. The costs were completely covered by Atfaluna at a discounted fee by the hospital based on an existing partnership between both parties.

“Leen’s case was a very hard one; she had a 65-degree scoliosis at a young age. However, we decreased the curve to 25 degrees and managed to stop its progression,” said the surgeon in a phone interview with Jordan News.

Founded in 2015, Atfaluna provides free yet quality medical care for children in need with support from a team of volunteer medical professionals, several private hospitals, labs, other local businesses and individuals.

“When we receive a case, it first undergoes socio-economic assessment to confirm the child’s true need,” explained Maisa Thweib, head of Medical and Patient Affairs Committee at Aftaluna, in an interview with Jordan News. “The second phase would be evaluation by our medical committee to assess if the case fulfills our selection criteria. If it does, a treatment plan is made by a medical volunteer specialist. Eventually, our fundraising committee secures the funds needed to move to treatment as a last step.”

In collaboration with 59 healthcare providers, the number of children treated by Atfaluna during last year reached 454 while that of performed surgeries and consultation visits stood at 134 and 616, respectively, according to the organization’s 2020 annual report.

“Thanks to Atfaluna, Leen’s body posture is now better and the hunchback is fixed,” said Leen’s mother.

“Humble, compassionate and fully devoted, Atfaluna’s staff made me feel as if I were the one who paid for the treatment. I hope everyone knows about this organization,” she added.

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