Mohamad smiles on his hospital bed after the second operation to mend his damaged leg in Bucharest, Romania. (Gabriel Ilias — Jesuit Refugee Service Romania)
(Bucharest) October 19, 2016 — Mohamad is an Iraqi teenager who took refuge in Romania in 2014, when he was just 15 years old. His parents were killed in front of him. He had to flee because of conflicts that even now continue according to reports in the international press. Unfortunately, at the time of the attack, Mohamad was shot in the legs but the surgery performed in poor conditions at a hospital in Iraq managed to worsen the situation of his wound.
In 2014, Jesuit Refugee Service Romania was conducting a European Refugee Fund project delivering social assistance for refugees across the country and traveled to Giurgiu, where they met Mohamad at the reception center of the General Inspectorate for Immigration.
The JRS team traveling there was impressed by his story but shocked by his health status, as his wounds constantly festered and he was unable to walk. JRS Romania reacted by trying to get him to access the necessary health care but his situation was constantly worsening so an urgent action had to be taken in order to save his leg from being amputated. Furthermore, JRS Romania took a stand against authorities so that Mohamad could be transferred when needed to Bucharest for the specialist medical treatment.
JRS Romania eventually raised the necessary funds (around 2,000 euros, or $2200) for surgery in a private hospital, that alone had the necessary intervention specialists. On 8 February 2016, the implantation of a stent graft in the popliteal artery took place. The medical intervention was successful and the doctors recommend antiplatelet treatment and medical rehabilitation.
"I want to thank all the people that helped me with everything,” said Mohamad, sitting on his hospital bed two days after the operation. “Also a lot of thanks to those helping with posting on Facebook my story, that we are all people, and kind kind thanks to professor Burnei for operating me, for everything. And also thanks for Bursa Binelui (Stock Exchange of Good) and to the people that have donated, because of them I had my leg fixed. Thank you, thank you..."
JRS Romania legal officer Luiza Mutu, who closely followed Mohamad’s case said: "The first time I met Mohamad I saw a child that was frightened and in pain, but hadn’t lost hope. While his situation was improving he was slowly turning from a kid to a teenager, hoping for a normal life. We made the first step in helping him reach his dream for a normal life, but more hard steps are ahead. I am glad that the first surgery was successful and I wish him to just be happy.”
The first surgery repaired his blood vessels in his wounded leg and a second surgery recently took place to repair the bone and ligaments. Other surgeries are needed in the future to reconstruct part of the ligaments in the foot and tissue in order for Mohamad to be able to fully use his foot and walk on it completely.
In June 2016, JRS Romania launched a fundraising campaign on the on-line platform BursaBinelui in order to collect funds for the necessary surgery, as staff continued to accompany Mohamad.
Today, Mohamad is out of hospital and back in Giurgiu, at the foster home where he lives. The first cast was removed and replaced last week; the second will stay on for another one to two months. Afterwards the recovery program will begin, and hopefully he will start walking again in the following months. He is very happy now that the surgery took place and is waiting for the next round of treatment so that he may one day walk freely again.
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JRS Romania does not have a special project for unaccompanied minors, but delivers assistance where there are emergencies, such as the case of Mohamad. Unfortunately, there are no statistics for the number of unaccompanied minors in Romania at the present time. In Romania last year the total number of new asylum seekers on the territory was 522, as recorded by the statistics of General Inspectorate for Immigration.
by Gabriel Ilias, JRS Romania fundraising officer