'Thankful for the second chance': Nigerian teen flies home after Dubai treatment

Four skin grafts using stem-cells help Mohammed Garba walk again after severe burns left him wheelchair-bound

Mohammed Garba, who was flown to Dubai from Nigeria to have extensive treatment for burn injuries, is pictured with Dr Sanjay Parashar. Photo: Cocoona Clinic
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A Nigerian teenager has returned home after receiving ground-breaking treatment in Dubai for more than two months for burn injuries.

Mohammed Garba, 18, from Katsina in the north of the country, was unable to walk properly or use his hands after suffering severe burns in a gas explosion at his home last February.

"It is amazing to have this second chance," said Mr Garba, who now hopes to chase his "dream of becoming a pilot".

"I'm very glad and grateful to be back home, and happy, and so is my family."

After initial treatment in Nigeria and Cairo failed to heal his injuries, Mr Garba and his family decided to fly to Dubai in March after connecting with Dr Sanjay Parashar, a plastic surgeon specialising in skin grafts in Dubai, on Instagram.

Following an initial assessment at the Cocoona Clinic in Al Wasl in March, Dr Parashar offered treatment at a reduced rate to help the family.

He was then transferred to the Dubai London Hospital where he underwent the first of four skin grafts using stem cells.

Mr Garba was accompanied by his older brother, Umar, a civil servant in Nigeria, who said the intervention by Dr Parashar was life-changing.

"After spending 70 days in Dubai, Mohammed has recovered by 90 per cent," said Umar.

"He is now fine, and just has some minor round-ups to complete the healing process.

"Before travelling to Dubai, Mohammed could not do anything for himself.

"He was using a wheelchair when he came to Dubai, but on his return home, he walked on his own."

Care costs

The family says Dr Sanjay's intervention helped them save around Dh20,000 ($5,445) in treatment costs, adding that they would not be able to afford the care otherwise.

They had to pay only for the first procedure and some minor hospital fees.

Medical procedures included creating an extra artificial layer of skin, or dermis, to allow for greater movement around his knees and elbows.

A micro-graft was then added – where skin is stretched – and reapplied to cover a wider area of damaged tissue.

"Dr Sanjay not only provides exceptional medical treatment for burn patients, but also offers invaluable support and encouragement," said brother Umar.

"His words have a lasting impact, resonating in your mind and motivating you to overcome challenges that may seem impossible.

"It's truly wonderful to have a doctor who not only focuses on physical healing but also understands the importance of uplifting and empowering patients."

Stem cells

Human stem cells used to generate fully functioning skin tissue is an emerging area of care to improve treatment for burns.

At the University of Queensland’s Frazer Institute, researchers have been able to develop sweat glands, hair follicles and neurons using stem cell lines to grow replacement skin organoids to patch up wounds.

The development offers hope to victims of burns, who live with the painful scarring from traditional skin grafts.

Dr Parashar is confident that Mr Garba will make an almost full recovery.

“Initially we had to do a minor procedure to ensure the wound would be ready to accept skin grafts because when he came to us, his wound had many infections,” he explained.

“With this new method, using regenerative principals from the cells in his own body to promote healing, allowing his own stem cells to cover and heal the wound.

“This was different to the conventional treatment for burns, where wounds are dressed and irrigated every few days, which can be very painful.

“As a patient, he was strong, brave and motivated which helped us to manage his recovery.”

Skin grafts were taken from his stomach, with those areas healing much faster than they typically would by using minimal dressings. Two weeks later a second graft was taken from the same area and reapplied to the wound on his arms, hands and thighs.

Mr Garba was also given physiotherapy so he was able to start bending his elbows and knees again.

“Within a few weeks he was able to walk by himself,” said Dr Parashar.

“Now he has gone back to Nigeria to continue his rehabilitation. I’m sure he will regain more than 90 per cent of his functions."

Updated: May 20, 2024, 11:02 AM