Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai collaborates with The Big Heart Foundation to treat three-year old Syrian girl with a rare, severe congenital eyelid defect

26 April 2016 (Dubai, United Arab Emirates): Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai and The Big Heart Foundation, an initiative of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and UNHCR Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children, are working together to treat a three year old Syrian girl called Salma Mustafa Asaad, aged three and was born with around two thirds of one of her eyelids missing, due to a rare condition called Congenital Eyelid Coloboma. This is where the eyelid and eyebrow are cleft and need repair- her right eye is healthy.

The first of a series of surgical procedures to correct this was recently completed successfully at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai by a specialist oculoplastic team, led by Consultant Ophthalmic & Oculoplastic Surgeon Dr. Yassir Abou-Rayyah. They removed eyelid tissue from her lower lid and grafted it in the upper lid to close the defect. Salma is recovering from the procedure at present and will require a series of further specialist eye surgeries planned over the next 12-18 months.

Salma’s father, Mustafa Ahmed, said: “I want to extend my profound thanks to Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, and The Big Heart Foundation and all its administrators, and to the doctors and medical staff at Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai and especially Dr. Yassir Abou-Rayyah, for facilitating this eye surgery for my daughter Salma, and bringing joy and happiness to our hearts.”

Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of Salam Ya Seghar, added: “Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi seeks to alleviate the suffering of children and refugees wherever and whenever her Highness can.  It is through her Highnesses’ The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) that the surgery for little Salma can be provided in collaboration with Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai. It is a beautiful thing to give a child her sight back, it is a gift that will last her lifetime. TBHF always strives to provide support to children in need through various charitable projects and relief campaigns, and we hope that this assistance will reach all people who need our help and support.”

Commenting on the medical condition and treatment, Dr Yassir Abou-Rayyah, Consultant Ophthalmic & Oculoplastic Surgeon, said: “Salma has a rare congenital disease, which severely affects her vision. The surgical team was very pleased with the first stage surgery to separate her eyelid from the eye globe and her condition is now very stable, and we now look forward to seeing Salma grow and develop over the next few months, before we continue the treatment to fully restore her upper and lower eyelids. We are very optimistic about the outcome because she is so young and still growing, and look forward to helping Salma achieve normal healthy vision.
Moorfields is delighted to work with The Big Heart Foundation to help Salma and her parents through a challenging series of surgeries, as part of our charitable work in the region and after her referral from the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.”

Yara Al Saleh, UAE Chapter President, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, concluded: “Our primary goal is to identify and treat every child in need in the Middle East region, regardless of their nationality, religion, race or gender. We are doing the best we can to make a positive difference in children’s lives and bring back the hope and smiles to their faces again. We are pleased to have great volunteers and partners like Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai and Salam Ya Seghar to support us in the treatment of Salma and many others.”

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