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Algerian girl travels to Ohio for life-changing surgery

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  • Algerian girl travels to Ohio for life-changing surgery


    Perrysburg, Ohio, October 19, 2010 -- Ryma, a petite 5-year-old girl from Algeria, is the newest arrival at The LightHouse, a ministry of ISOH/IMPACT, one of Ohio's premier disaster relief and humanitarian aid organizations. Diagnosed with lipomyelomeningocele, a form of Spina Bifida, Ryma has a mass located under the skin on her back. As a result of the pressure put on her spinal column by the mass, Ryma lives with reduced neurological function and mobility. While at The LightHouse, Ryma will be evaluated and treated at Mercy Children’s Hospital by the pediatricians at the Family Center. Dr. Medhkour, a neurosurgeon, will complete her surgical care for treatment of the condition by closing and repairing the lipomyelomeningocele.

    The goal of Ryma’s treatment is to help her recover some neurological function, boosting her capability of performing daily activities and improving her overall quality of life. Such delicate surgery is not available in Algiers where Ryma lives. If left untreated, the mass will create life-threatening complications. ISOH/IMPACT is asking the public to assist with Ryma’s travel, food, and lodging expenses. In addition to financial donations, assistance is also welcome in the form of meals, grocery cards, gas cards and phone cards.

    "It takes an immense amount of planning and resources to make Ryma's treatment possible. And we're so grateful to everyone who has reached out to serve this precious child," said ISOH/IMPACT President, Dr. Linda A. Greene. "Without their help, she might not live to grow up. In the end, that's what this is all about – saving a little girl's life." Ryma’s anticipated stay at The LightHouse is 6 to 8 weeks. She is accompanied by her parents, Abdenour and Lila Djoudad.

    In addition to providing access to life-saving medical care, ISOH/IMPACT offers food and relief supplies to people around the world who suffer from manmade and natural disasters. To learn more about ISOH/IMPACT and how you can be a part of Reaching Out & Serving Others, visit ISOH/IMPACT.

  • #2

    TOLEDO, November 1, 2010 -- NBC 24 has some good news to pass along about a 5-year-old Algerian girl brought to Northwest Ohio to have life changing surgery. ISOH/Impact who helped make Ryma's trip and surgery a reality says the little girl's surgery on Friday was a success. Following surgery to have a tumor removed from her back, Ryma was able to move all her extremities, which is a miracle given that she only has half a spinal cord. Ryma is expected to stay at ISOH/Impact's Lighthouse in Perrysburg for at least 8 weeks.

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    • #3

      January 14, 2011 -- Ryma is crawling up stairs and even standing and taking a few steps with assistance. Before a life-changing surgery in Toledo for the five-year-old girl from Algeria, those activities were thought impossible. Ryma has lipomyelomeningocele, which is a form of Spina Bifida, that resulted in a mass the size of a softball located under the skin of her back that was connected to the spinal cord. The condition puts pressure on the nerves and affects motor function. "It is an extremely complicated procedure to remove the mass without injuring the nerves and spinal cord attached to it. If you simply were to remove all the fatty tissue, it would lead to paralysis," said Dr. Azedine Medhkour, associate professor of surgery and a UTMC neurosurgeon. "We needed to remove as much of the tumor as we could, and leave only a thin layer of fat tissue attached to the spinal cord and meticulously replace the spinal cord in its natural spinal canal. It is an extremely delicate procedure, performed under sophisticated monitoring and high magnification using the microscope."

      Dr. Medhkour coordinated with the UT Medical Center's pediatric services, Mercy Children's Hospital and the pediatric ICU team to perform the surgery in Toledo, where there was the needed technology and expertise. The 15-hour surgery was performed Oct. 29. Ryma spent 40 days in the hospital with follow up procedures to ensure that the neural canal was closed. "She's performing some physical tasks that she has never done before," Dr. Medhkour said. "We are hoping she can most likely be walking prior to returning home. That was not expected before we started seeing her amazing recovery."

      The LightHouse, a ministry of ISOH/IMPACT, was instrumental in helping the family settle in Toledo for her treatment and recovery. Ryma has now returned to The Lighthouse where she is expected to stay for a few more months as she undergoes physical and occupational therapy and evaluation by the pediatric orthopedic team for possible treatment of her lower extremities. Her parents, Abdenour and Lila Djoudad, accompany her. Her father is currently staying at the Ronald McDonald House. Linda Greene, president of ISOH/IMPACT, said Ryma fills The Lighthouse with singing and laughter and she is determined and tough in her recovery. "She is nothing short of a miracle," Greene said. "Ryma has a very strong will and is wise beyond her years. We love watching her progress and are impressed with the amazing person she is."

      Dr. Medhkour was first contacted to help Ryma about a year ago after her family learned he had provided a similar surgery free of charge to Ayoub Hamdi, who was then a 14-month boy also from Algeria. Dr. Medhkour said this couldn't have happened without the extensive medical community support from the UT Medical Center, Mercy Children's Hospital (in particular the pediatric ICU team), the neurosurgical network team at Mercy St. Vincent's (in particular Dr. Michael Healy and Dr. Malini Narayanan for their follow up care), UTMC pediatric services, ISOH/IMPACT, the Ronald McDonald House, and the health care team donating their time and talents to Ryma's treatment and recovery.

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