Feature: Specialized prosthetics hospital in Gaza helps Palestinian amputees get back on feet

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by Sanaa Kamal

GAZA, March 27 (Xinhua) — Mohammed Zaidan, a Palestinian carpenter at the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, spends most of his time in making furniture to earn his keep.

But the life for the 40-year-old man is a touch different. He is also an amputee who lost his right leg during an Israeli raid in January 2018.

“That Israeli raid didn’t only cost me my leg, but also cost me my job as a firefighter,” Zaidan said, his voice breaking, while cutting a large piece of wood to make a chair out of it.

He later decided to make a living by carpentry, but the lack of a suitable prosthesis had since bothered him, forcing him to rely on crutches to walk.

“I needed to go to Germany to get a prosthesis, but the borders were closed and the costs were enormous. I couldn’t afford it,” he explained.

It was almost the same case with Suhaib Qudaih, a Palestinian farmer from Khan Younis city in the southern Gaza Strip, who had his right leg amputated after being shot by Israeli soldiers on March 30, 2018 during a popular protest against the fence that separates Israeli towns from Gaza.

After that, the 34-year-old father of seven decided to cultivate his 1.4-hectare farm, relying on crutches to move around.

Eventually, Zaidan and Qusaih saw the silver lining of getting back on their feet when a Qatari hospital in Gaza informed them of the opportunity to have a suitable prosthesis.

Both of them were among the 297 disabled people who got artificial limbs from the Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics in Gaza, which was established in late 2019.

“The Qatari hospital is the first-ever specialized hospital here that manufactures artificial limbs for amputees who suffer from severe injuries,” Ahmed al-Absi, head of the hospital’s artificial limbs department, told Xinhua.

He said the hospital provides services to the amputees to obviate their need to travel outside Gaza for artificial limbs.

“We are working to provide an integrated treatment circuit for people who need prosthetic limbs, which is divided into three stages: psychological and physical rehabilitation of the patient, the production of the limb, and its installment,” al-Absi explained.

Some of the patients “regained their 96-percent ability to walk as if they had never been amputees,” the doctor said.

In Gaza, there are about 49,000 persons with disabilities, or 2.4 percent of the total population, according to official statistics. Enditem

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