In rare procedure, Israeli doctors save Gazan child from paralysis

Three-year-old Gazan boy Sliman recovers from surgery at Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center. Credit: Hadassah Medical Center.

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to A rare procedure performed at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem has prevented a 3-year-old Palestinian boy from the Gaza Strip from becoming paralyzed. The boy was released from the hospital walking on his own.

Sliman, 3, had developed a benign tumor in his chest, which not only interfered with his respiratory system but also caused a malformation in his spine and limited his range of motion. The tumor posed a risk of causing permanent paralysis in the lower extremities in the future.

This tumor is very rare with only a handful of recorded cases in medical history. It was the first such case to be seen in Israel. The doctors at the Hadassah Medical Center agreed to confront the challenge and decided on a two-stage approach.

The first stage involved a “stretching” of the skeleton with the use of weights in order to facilitate access to the tumor. In the second stage, the doctors excised the tumor as it pressed against the spine in the neck, threatening to cause neural damage at any minute.

During the complex, six-hour surgery, the part of the tumor that had encircled the spine was removed as well as part of the tumor that had grown into the spine. One of the vertebrae was also removed.

“This was a rare procedure not just on a national level, but on a global level,” said Dr. Joshua Schroeder, a senior orthopedic surgeon at Hadassah. “There is almost no documentation of this kind of repair anywhere in the world. Needless to say that this is the first procedure of its kind in Israel….The child arrived at Hadassah with obviously limited range of motion due to the malformation and also required close monitoring of the respiratory system because of the tumor that had spread from his chest to his neck vertebrae. We straightened his spine and alleviated the pressure by removing the tumor from around and inside the spine.”

The boy resumed walking and has been discharged from the hospital. Sliman’s father said that “the doctors at Hadassah were welcoming and helpful. They appear to be miracle workers, with the help of Allah. We are truly grateful.”

Posted on April 27, 2016 .