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Heartbreaking Plight of Syrian Girl Who Used Tin Cans for Legs

Heartbreaking Plight of Syrian Girl Who Used Tin Cans for Legs

The photos of an 8-year-old Syrian refugee girl moving around in a refugee camp on artificial limbs of plastic tubing and tin cans have drawn world sympathy for her endless plight.

Maya Mehri, who is originally from Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, was born without lower limbs due to a congenital condition.

She was pictured while moving with difficulty inside a refugee camp in Idlib region where she had to move with her family due to ongoing fighting in Syria.

Her pictures walking on home-made limbs have prompted the Turkish Red Crescent to intervene to bring the disabled Syrian girl to Istanbul for treatment.

“Maya will walk, God willing, in three months time,” said Dr Mehmet Zeki Culcu, the prosthetics specialist treating her at an Istanbul clinic.

Maya, like her father who has the same disability, had been able to move around more easily by crawling. But a recent surgery, which further reduced the length of her limbs, had impeded this.

“After the operation, she was not able to move around and was sitting the whole time in a tent,” her father Mehri Mohammad said.

“In order for her to move out of the tent, I had the idea to fix on her limbs tubing, stuffed with a spongy material to reduce the pressure.

“Then, I added two empty cans of tuna because the plastic was not strong enough to resist the friction with the ground,” he said.

With these impromptu prosthetics, Maya was able to walk outside of the tent and could even go on her own to the school inside the refugee camp.

Mohammad, who has five other children none of whom suffer from the condition, said he replaced the plastic tubing once a month and the tins once a week.

New life

At the Istanbul clinic, Maya and her father are overwhelmed by the news that they would be able to walk again.

“It’s more important that she can walk so that she is autonomous. It would be like a new life for us,” Mohammed said.

“I dream of seeing her walk, going to school and back without suffering,” he added.

Maya’s father will also be given prosthetic legs in Turkey, which is home to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, who had fled their country due to a seven-year civil war there.

Dr. Culcu said he had been “very touched” by the pictures of Maya walking on her tins and had decided to take on the cost of her prosthetic legs and those of her father.

“We have been contacted by people all over the world who want to make the donation. But this issue is closed and I will take on the cost,” he said.

He said the homemade limbs her father had constructed were likely to prove of huge benefit because they had got her used to walking.

“We can’t really call what she has prosthetics,” Dr. Culcu said.

“It’s a kind of makeshift system for her to walk. With the energy of desperation, without any means, her father turned that suffering into hope.”


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