The injuries incurred by 4 year old Omran had left him clinging to life.
Until the accident, he was a healthy and active boy who loved to play and ride his toy cars with his family. Then one recent day, as he was walking with his family on the side of the road in his village outside of Nablus, he was struck by an out of control car driving at over 130 kilometers an hour. Omran was thrown 30 meters into the air. His parents witnessed the entire accident but looked on helplessly as he was quickly evacuated to the closest hospital in nearby Jenin.
There the medical teams fought to stabilize his condition requiring multiple blood transfusions and detecting that he had experienced a complex and rare fracture in his spinal column.
The doctors in Jenin recognized that Omran was literally hovering between life and death and that saving that life would require the intervention of an experienced team of trauma specialists.
The decision was made to transfer him to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center where he was received by the pediatric trauma team including Dr. Harel Arzi, Director of the Pediatric Spinal Cord Service.
According to the medical team, upon admission they knew he had suffered a rare and complex injury that came with minimal chances for recovery. Only a small number of cases had been recorded of such an injury in such a small child.
“The complete separation of the cervical vertebrae with a distance of two centimeters between the sections represents an extremely rare injury for the patient to have even survived,” Dr. Arzi explains. “We consulted with a number of experts in Israel and abroad to devise a possible treatment plan. None of the experts had ever dealt with this exact type of injury and because it’s so rare the specific equipment for treating a child of this size with such a condition doesn’t even exist.”
After a thorough review of the options and in consultation with leading international spine specialists, the team decided to perform a procedure with a dual approach. From the rear section, the surgeons implanted an elastic-type system that was attached to the spinal column and the front was secured with two small plates that are typically used to secure injured portions of the jaw.
“During the surgery, we were able to clearly see how the spinal cord itself had been severely damaged. The procedure itself went very well and we were then able to affix a halo-vest which secures the head in order to maintain the internal restructuring we had done to address the injury. When I saw Omran move his hands, it was an extremely emotional moment,” Dr. Arzi recalled. “The chances of survival from such a devastating injury are very low, so to see such mobility was very encouraging. He has a long and challenge road ahead of him including extensive respiratory and occupational therapies. I’m very encouraged that we were able to save his upper extremities and hope that his condition will continue to improve.”
Omran’s father, Mohamed added, “I would never have believed we would be where we are today. My only prayer is that we will be able to take this experience day by day and that he should continue to fight. We are very grateful to the staff at Shaare Zedek who welcomed us with so much care and compassion and for performing the surgery which gave him back the ability to move and provides the great hope that he will continue to progress through the help of intensive rehabilitation.”
Omran was released from the hospital in stable condition for continued rehabilitation and his family thanked Shaare Zedek and God for the incredible miracle that gave them back their son’s life.