Abu Dhabi doctors treat Syrian siblings who survived quake

Sham Sheikh Mohamed and her brother Omar were flown to the UAE for treatment after surviving days under the rubble

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Two Syrian children who were trapped under rubble in Syria are now in a stable condition at Burjeel Medical City in Abu Dhabi.

The siblings were flown to the UAE and into the care of doctors who delivered life saving treatment on Wednesday.

Ten-year-old Sham Sheikh Mohamed and her 15-year-old brother Omar spent 40 hours trapped under a collapsed building after the February 6 earthquake. Both children had significant infections and were in a critical condition by the time they arrived in Abu Dhabi.

Despite their rapidly advancing infections, doctors managed to get them to a stable condition.

Sham became a symbol of hope when she was pulled from the rubble of an apartment building near Idlib after more than 40 hours. Her life was then threatened by gangrene that spread in the lower part of the body.

UAE authorities flew the siblings to hospital where doctors immediately tried to save their lives.

"Both children had rapidly advancing infections and the doctors performed life-saving surgery on them," said Dr Michael Uglow, consultant pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Burjeel Medical City.

"The urgent surgeries have stabilised both children and improved their condition significantly."

State news agency Wam said that Sheikha Fatima, Mother of the Nation, had directed the medical mission.

Sham and Omar's father survived but their mother and sister were killed when their apartment building in the town of Armanaz collapsed.

A video of Sham singing along with her rescuers from the White Helmets as they worked for six hours to dig her out was shared widely online.

She and Omar were taken across the border to Turkey for treatment. But her family refused to sign a consent form at a hospital where doctors said amputation was inevitable.

An official from the UAE diplomatic mission in Turkey contacted the family at the request of the government. The siblings were stabilised and flown on a private medical flight to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Their cousin Beshar Al Andik travelled with them to the UAE capital.

“In Turkey, we refused to sign the consent for amputation. The conditions were bad there”, he told The National.

“Her treatment stopped because the hospital was overcrowded. Only when we went to Istanbul did doctors at the hospital there treat them a little and clean their wounds but said that both needed amputations.

“So, we asked that we go back to Syria but thankfully, the UAE intervened and brought us here for treatment.

“We would like to show our gratitude to a country whose hospitality and kindness is like no other. We were contacted by many countries but no one had immediately come to our assistance, like the UAE did.”

Mr Andik had not seen Sham and her side of the family in three years.

“We live in Turkey and when we first heard that the building they were in had collapsed, we were told that there was no chance that anyone would survive.”

Being under the rubble for so long meant that blood flow was restricted to vital organs for a long time.

Crush syndrome can kill survivors who at first glance appear to have survived.

Updated: March 02, 2023, 3:35 PM