In Syria’s southern province Daraa, as in others, the regime’s use of cluster munitions and bombs has caused hundreds of amputations, some of which would not be necessary if the bombing had not also destroyed the region’s medical infrastructure. With the number of cases on the rise, there is a need for efforts to help amputees re-adjust and deal with their injuries. This is exactly what some medical centers, including the Hayah Center for Prosthetic Limbs, aims to do.
Dr. Qasim Hussein, who runs the center, told the Syrian Voice about their work.
“The center was opened in March of this year, and it has 16 staff and volunteers. We are trying to leave our mark on history and stand with a group of afflicted people that is no longer so small,’ he said.
Dr. Hussein continued, saying “our project is independent: there is no profit or political agenda. The goal is purely humanitarian, and the patient is our main focus. We are trying to help all amputees by providing them with mechanical limbs.”
Abu Bilal, from a town outside of Daraa city, is 26 years old with a wife and two kids, and was one of the center’s patients. He was injured last year fighting in a battle against government forces, which led to the amputation of both his legs above the knee. Thus, Abu Bilal turned to the Hayat Center for help with getting and using prosthetic limbs.
He explained to the Syrian Voice that two of his brothers have special needs, and an elderly father, so there is no provider for his family besides his third brother. After he was injured, he lost his job and his salary, and didn’t know how to pay for his treatment, medicine, or cover his personal expenses.
“Because of my injury, I need hydraulic limbs. But these cost $19,000 and are extremely hard to get in opposition areas. But the price is the real problem; I can’t afford them, even though I know they’ll return my ability to move by 60%.”
Unable to buy hydraulic limbs, he chose to go through al-Hayat for normal prosthetic limbs. But he needs to wait: he is one of 150 amputee cases waiting for prosthetic limbs from the center.
According to Dr. Hussein, the Center has attached 175 prosthetics so far, but there are 150 people still waiting for them and this number increases every day. The cost for one, he says, is between $900 to $1,200. The Center does not just install* them, however, but provides training, follow up, and maintenance.
For its part, the Family of Houran Association has agreed to provide the center with support for 25 cases a month for the next six months. This is a start, but the center is seeking help from other organizations to help them fund their project and develop it. They would also like to help treat patients with paraplegia and provide them with the necessary medical equipment.
Another amputee in the Daraa countryside, Muhammed, told the Syrian Voice about his case.
“I was injured at the end of March when I walked over a landmine near an abandoned military installation, which meant I had to get my right leg amputated below the knee.”
Mohammed now feels embarrassed because of his condition and is trying to get a prosthetic limb to return part of his former activity, make movement easier, and help him re-join society. He is just one of dozens of cases facing the same physical and psychological suffering.
As for Hamza, another amputee, he needed to be amputated two years after being injured injury, but has gotten a prosthetic limb from the Hayah center.
“I had to deal with many challenges, but many of them have gone away since I got the limb. The most important thing is a can walk good distances without getting tired again, which has also made my family happy.”
The limbs provided by the Hayah center are locally produced, according to Dr. Hussein. Despite the fact that they are made in local workshops with traditional tools, they are high quality.