12 January 2008

Born at a check point - grossly disabled for life

Introduction:- Mohammad Khalil was born at a checkpoint. He inhaled meconium, the contents of his intestine. This might anyway indicate previous anoxia. In his case there was no expert care and the anoxia continued.

Dr Alan Meyers writes to a colleague who speaks for justice in the remnants of Palestine:- Thanks for forwarding the latest information on women forced to deliver at checkpoints. This past October, while in the West Bank with our Jewish Voice for Peace - Health and Human Rights Project (formerly Jewish American Medical Project) delegation, I had the opportunity to witness the long-term effect of one such incident. I was seeing patients at a Palestinian Medical Relief Society clinic in the village of Sinjil outside Ramallah where I met Mohammed Khalil, a 12-year-old boy who weighs ~24kg, is blind and profoundly retarded as the result of severe birth asphyxia. His mother, Fainan Said Khalil, told me that she had arrived at Kalandia checkpoint in labor with her fourth child. She was not allowed to pass, and after 5 hours she delivered at the checkpoint. The infant aspirated meconium and was cyanotic (she pointed to the blue desk calendar and said "that color").

It took two hours before an ambulance was able to gain access and transport them to Augusta Victoria Hospital, where Mohammed was resuscitated. She spends most of her time caring for him. The family spends about two-thirds of her husband’s salary of $320/mo caring for him. She carries him everywhere and has chronic back pain as a result. As a gesture of solidarity, we are trying to secure a specialized wheelchair for him.

As we know, the situation would be far different if such cases were widely publicized. We presented this and other material at the American Public Health Association annual meeting, but informing the wider public is a constant struggle, especially in the U.S.

COMMENT It is very fortunate that the story of Ahmad in the previous posting did not end with a similar catastrophe. Any baby and any mummy is at grave risk in such conditions. Where is the occupier's humanity?