New-born survives heart surgery following evacuation from war-torn Yemen.

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Diagnosed at birth with a potentially fatal congenital heart disease, the odds seemed to be against new-born Yemeni baby Abdullah Jaber*, with no surgeons capable of performing the surgery he needed in war-torn Yemen.

By Allianz Worldwide Care | August 03, 2016

Allianz Care - Diagnosed at birth with a potentially fatal congenital heart disease, the odds seemed to be against new-born Yemeni baby Abdullah Jaber*, with no surgeons capable of performing the surgery he needed in war-torn Yemen.

Immediately, the family’s international health insurance kicked in, and we began coordinating an evacuation. Allianz Worldwide Care, mobilised a team, which began coordinating with the family, government stakeholders, logistics providers and healthcare facilities to get Abdullah the treatment he needed.

Dr Ulrike Sucher, Medical Director of Allianz Worldwide Care, said: “We had an emergency medical paediatric diagnosis, as Abdullah’s condition was causing his aorta to narrow. With no surgeons in Yemen trained in the expertise required to perform the surgery, we were under extreme time pressure to transport the baby to a hospital where the surgery could be performed.”

The war raging in Yemen threatened to delay the situation, as many countries no longer have embassies operating there, which made getting a travel visa for the new-born almost impossible. The nearest country that would accept Abdullah’s case without a visa was South Africa, almost 6,000km away. Yemen’s borders and airspace are currently controlled by Saudi Arabia, which added to the logistical difficulties of organising the evacuation.

Once the evacuation team had overcome these obstacles, Abdullah and his mother were evacuated with the support of a specialist paediatric intensive care team in a Hawker 800 air ambulance, equipped as a mobile intensive care unit. After a fuel stop in Ethiopia on route, Abdullah arrived in Lanseria International Airport, South Africa, and was transported to the Netcare Sunninghill Hospital.

Dr Ulrike said: “Abdullah had his surgery on 12 February and it was successful. He spent more than two weeks recovering in hospital, and is recuperating well in Doha, Qatar, where his family are now living. There is nothing more rewarding than saving a baby’s life and we are delighted that Abdullah is safe and making a strong recovery.”

*Name changed to protect the privacy of the infant.


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