Gaza karate champion who lost leg in Israeli strike transferred to Egypt

Nagham Abu Samra remains in a critical condition and is in a coma as father describes 'scary and terrible journey'

Palestinian karate champion Nagham Abu Samra before and after Israeli air strikes caused her to lose a leg. She was treated in Al Aqsa Martyrs' hospital in Deir Al Balah. Photo: Mohammad Abu Samra
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The Palestinian karate champion who lost her leg in an Israeli strike last month has been transferred to Egypt, where she remains in a coma and a critical condition, her father told The National on Tuesday.

Nagham Abu Samra reached Egypt on Sunday after a perilous journey in which she almost died.

Her father Marwan Abu Samra described the harrowing experience accompanying his unconscious daughter to safety.

The plan was to move Ms Abu Samra from the intensive care unit of Al Aqsa Martyr's Hospital in Deir Al Balah, central Gaza, to the southern border and then across into Egypt.

With all of Gaza's hospitals destroyed or damaged, reaching medical care in Egypt was the only chance of survival for his eldest and only living daughter.

Mr Abu Samra, had lost his wife to cancer, and his other daughter, Rosanne, was killed in the Israeli air strike that wounded Nagham on December 18.

But on Sunday, he was set to accompany her from the hospital, across to Egypt, where she would remain until she is stable enough to transport abroad for further treatment.

Speaking to The National from Bier Elabd hospital in the Egyptian city of El Arish, Mr Abu Samra says he is still unable to relax, despite the fact that he and his daughter are now safe from the Israeli strikes that have hit Al Aqsa hospital in recent days and caused several international organisations to pull their teams out.

“Just like I've been sleeping outside Al Aqsa [hospital] in my car since Nagham's injury, I've been sleeping on a wooden chair outside her room in Bier Elabd.”

He said he is still processing the harrowing journey he took with Nagham to the border.

Nagham, who is on a ventilator, was at risk of succumbing to her injuries while en route to Egypt, Mr Abu Samra said.

“It was a scary and terrible journey. We almost lost Nagham. The ventilator that was brought on board the ambulance was not working. So a new one was brought in and that also wasn't working. In the end, they resorted to keeping her on a manual ventilator.”

But even the doctor performing the manual ventilation was ill, Mr Abu Samra said.

“We had to stop at a hospital halfway in Al Nuseirat and resuscitate Nagham, because she had almost suffocated.”

Gaza's seriously wounded pray for transfer to hospitals abroad

Gaza's seriously wounded pray for transfer to hospitals abroad

Today, despite being outside of Gaza where he barely had access to clean water or shelter of his own, Mr Abu Samra says he has yet to take his first shower in two weeks, as he remains preoccupied with worry about his daughter.

“My entire body is still tense. I was offered to sleep in the workers' accommodation off-premises but I'd rather be by Nagham's side, outside her door, in case of any developments.”

Her place in her father's heart is unlike any other, he says.

“She's the eyes I see with,” he said, holding back tears.

“She was very affectionate. Always asking me what I'd like to eat, always worrying about my health. Always telling me to stop smoking. She would never leave my side. When her mother died, she said, don't worry, baba, I will make it up to you.”

On the day the strike hit, Nagham said she had brought her father some meat which she would saute with onions for dinner.

“Why is your face yellow, baba? You need to eat, she said,” Mr Abu Samra told The National, as his voice shook.

Mr Abu Samra's only hope is to see his daughter in better health.

“Her situation is very complicated. I just want her to be somewhere where the medical system is able to deal with her case. But at least I am by her side.”

Updated: January 10, 2024, 7:28 AM