"I felt like I had been electrocuted,” Mohammed explains. “My leg bulged, and then I lost consciousness.” On April 6, 2018, Mohammed was shot in the leg during demonstrations at the Gaza border. His story is one of many. At least 15,000 people have been injured since the start of the demonstrations last March, of whom nearly 3,000 have severe lower leg trauma, similar to Mohammed’s.
Since his injury, Mohammed has undergone two major surgeries, resulting in a large metal frame around his leg. "I am bedridden now, I can't hold my kids like before. And I am always frightened to move.” He will need further bone reconstruction surgery in the coming months, but this is a specialist procedure that can only be carried out in hospitals outside of Gaza. It is not clear whether he will be allowed to leave.
Mohammed lives in Gaza with his wife, two children, and other members of his extended family. "I don't have this amount of money. My family is poor and we can't afford it for long," he continues. Mohammed used to bring in a small, but essential income, delivering vegetables at the market. But now, he's unable to work. His family is currently paying 45 euros—equivalent to $52.50—each week for painkillers and transportation to and from the hospital.
Rehabilitation care from HI
"I used to love playing football in my neighborhood, but now I can only hope to start using my crutches as soon as possible." HI staff provides Mohammed with post-operative care, including wound dressing. They aim to improve his living conditions by providing a mattress to prevent bedsores. HI physical therapists will soon start a physical rehabilitation plan when his condition improves. Recovery will take many months of hard work and patience. During this time, psychologists, specially-trained by HI, will help Mohammed to deal with the psychological and social impact of his injuries.
The journey to recovery
"Before the injury, I was hoping to have my own private house for my small family. Now, I just hope to find a way to make my kids happy." Mohammed is determined to recover, but will need sustained medical and psychological support to avoid developing a permanent disability. HI’s mobile team of nurses, physical therapists, and psychologists, will accompany him throughout his journey, giving him the very best chance of a full recovery.
The Gaza crisis and HI’s response
- HI and its local partners have set up 12 mobile teams. These teams include rehabilitation professionals, psychologists, and social workers. They visit individuals who have been injured in their homes, as there is not enough space in hospitals to see patients, as well as, to ease the burden of travel costs.
- HI’s mobile teams have provided services such as rehabilitation care, post-operative care, psychosocial support, assistive devices to 661 injured patients and will reach hundreds more in the coming weeks.
- HI also prepared contingency stocks in each governorate, including mobility aids (crutches and wheelchairs), emergency wound management, and kitchen kits, which have reduced waiting times for these resources.
Photo caption: Mohammed and his two children in their home in Gaza in June 2018.