March 23, 2018

Twenty Surgeries and Counting to Save a Young Man's Leg

Allana Ferreira, ADRA Iraq & Adventist Review

For the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Adventist Help in Iraq, Marwan Mohammed, 19, is a special patient.

Last year, he and his family were having dinner in Mosul, Iraq, when the house was suddenly attacked, and the room where the family was eating was flattened. Marwan’s older brother died in the attack. His mother, his brother's wife, and his nine-year-old nephew were injured, and Marwan himself was severely injured in one leg.

Twelve people were inside the room. Even as the battle raged on, the injured were taken to a Mosul hospital, where Marwan underwent surgery. Doctors put metal prosthetics on his leg, but unfortunately, he developed a massive infection.

For two months Marwan stayed in the hospital, but his situation did not improve. Finally, the family was moved to an internally displaced persons (IDP)’s camp, where medical help was minimal. When doctors finally examined Marwan’s leg at an area hospital, they said the leg must be amputated.

Marwan has four brothers and three sisters, and with the death of his elder brother, he is now responsible for the younger ones. Without a leg, it would be very difficult to take care of his mother and siblings.

“The family went to another hospital in Erbil, and eventually, they were sent to the Hassam Sham U2 camp, where ADRA / Adventist Help has an emergency medical unity and medical clinics,” shared the regional leaders of the Adventist humanitarian organizations.

As money was raised to pay for the additional surgeries Marwan needed, a team began to work to try to save the young man’s leg. Between ADRA and an Erbil hospital assistance, the infection was finally contained.

Next surgeries will be focused on replacing the bone loss in the leg with a piece of bone from his hips. As they wait for ADRA / Adventist Help to raise funds for this surgery, Marwan and his family are still living in the Hassan camp. He visits the ADRA medical tent every other day to get his dressings changed and take his medicines.

As of March 2018, the young man has undergone more than twenty surgeries on his leg. After a year of treatments and despite visible improvements, Marwan has come to terms with the fact that his leg might have to be finally amputated. The ADRA / Adventist Help’s team, however, are willing to keep fighting and do everything within their means to save his leg. It is something the young man values deeply.

“The team takes care of me as a family—I feel they really like me!” Marwan says. “I feel at home among them, and I am grateful for it.” He and his family are not sure when they will be able to go back to Mosul, as everything they had has been lost.

Despite the odds, Marwan remains hopeful.

“My biggest dream is to go back [to Mosul] in my two legs,” he says. “But whatever happens, I feel nothing I do in this world will be enough to thank what the ADRA / AH team is doing for me here.”

Whatever the outcome, ADRA Iraq/Kurdistan and Adventist Help have vowed to be there to support, comfort, and encourage. And why not, help Marwan walk normally again.