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Yemen boy travels 7,000 miles to York for treatment

Monday, June 09, 2014

7-year-old suffered serious injuries in school bus accident

From left, Diane Diebler, Ahmed Alhumaidi, Nancy Orwick and Joan Luce
Ahmed Alhumaidi poses with WellSpan York Hospital nurses Diane Diebler, left; Joan Luce, right; and child life specialist Nancy Orwick, center.

Despite having his heavily bandaged right arm in a splint and his left hand in a smaller splint, Ahmed Alhumaidi laughed as he operated the Wii controls with the fingers of his left hand to play a baseball game.

When his team scored a run, he smiled at his opponent, Nancy Orwick, child life specialist. He was winning, and he was savoring the moment.

He didn’t seem like a 7-year-old boy who had suffered a limb-threatening, horrific injury 10 days earlier. Nor did he seem like a boy who had traveled 7,000 miles from Yemen on a 16-hour flight to come to WellSpan York Hospital for treatment.

“I get very emotional talking about the excellent care Ahmed received at WellSpan York Hospital,” said Essam Alshreafi, Ahmed’s uncle, who lives in York.

“Words are not enough to express how appreciative his family and I are. Ahmed received unbelievable, expert care that was delivered with compassion. You hear about hospitals saying they put the patient first, but you don’t know it’s true until you live it personally.”

Alshreafi, a health care consultant, was responsible for having his nephew transferred to WellSpan York Hospital to receive the majority of his treatment for injuries suffered in a school bus accident in Yemen.

Shortly after the accident, Alshreafi’s brother-in-law emailed him photos of Ahmed’s injured right arm, forearm and hand. The photos convinced Alshreafi that his nephew wouldn’t receive the best treatment for his injuries in Yemen. He insisted the boy be flown to York for treatment.

“I had been a patient at WellSpan York Hospital a couple of times, and I had good experiences,” he said. “I was confident of the care Ahmed would receive.”

As a health care consultant, Alshreafi was very knowledgeable about health care providers in the region.

“I knew I had options,” he said. “We could have gone to Jefferson in Philadelphia or Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. But, I didn’t see any need to go anywhere except York.”

Ahmed’s transfer was coordinated through the Patient Logistics Department and Care Management at WellSpan York Hospital.

After Ahmed and his family arrived at Dulles Airport, Alshreafi received an unexpected call from the WellSpan York Hospital trauma team saying they were expecting Ahmed, and everyone was prepared to take care of him right away.

“That phone call was very relieving to Ahmed’s mother and myself. I can’t tell you how much it meant,” commented Alshreafi.

Nearly 72 hours had elapsed since the accident when Ahmed arrived at WellSpan York Hospital. Doctors in Yemen had cleaned and bandaged his wounds, and performed minor surgery on his hand. Ahmed was taken directly to the operating room, where his wounds were thoroughly cleaned and primary fracture repairs were performed.

Two days later, he returned to the operating room. His wounds were once again cleaned and Integra, an artificial dermis and temporary skin, was applied.

“Ahmed suffered serious injuries,” stressed plastic surgeon Michael Born, MD. “He had a fracture through the growth plate of his humeral head, and he lost part of the articular cartilage on his humerus. He was missing skin on his elbow, forearm and hand.

The wounds were severely contaminated with dirt, and he had an injured tendon on his right hand.”

Born said Ahmed’s prognosis is good, at this point. He plans to perform a skin graft in about four weeks.

“I’m very pleased with the way things turned out,” he said. “I’m glad the family had confidence in the WellSpan York Hospital staff, and we were able to help.

“I want to give credit to the surgical residents on the trauma team, orthopedics, pediatrics, patient logistics, case management and everyone else who was involved in Ahmed’s care. Everyone functioned well together, and things went very smoothly. It’s an incredible success story that should make us all proud," said Born.

Alshreafi added, “I can’t thank the people of WellSpan York Hospital enough. We’re very grateful.”

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