US/World

6-Year-Old Palestinian Boy Travels 7,500 Miles To California For Surgery That Lets Him Walk For First Time

Hadi Alkhadra
Boy travels 7,500 miles from Palestine to California for life-changing surgery. YouTube

Hadi Alkhadra has never known what it feels like to stand on his own two feet. Born with a rare muscular condition, the 6-year-old boy from Palestine has relied on his parents to get around for his entire life. Thanks to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lawrence Rinsky from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University, Hadi is now getting his first opportunity to walk on his own after traveling 7,500 miles from Palestine to California.

“All of these people we have met, they have worked so well together to help Hadi,” Hadi’s mother, Shireen Alkhadra, said in a statement. “This never could have happened without Dr. Rinsky and Stanford.”

Hadi was born with severe arthrogryposis, also known as “stuck joints,” on top of other orthopedic deformities that caused his feet to face the opposite way. Around one out of 3,000 children is born with this condition that causes joints to move abnormally or get stuck in a fixed position. After doctors from Hadi’s home in the Tulkarem refugee camp in the West Bank were unable to treat his condition, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund put his family in touch with Rinsky who was more than happy to lend a helping hand.  

“I said yes, we can treat this young man,” Rinsky told CBS San Francisco. “I was surprised that he hadn’t been treated where he came from. The foot was so deformed that it was upside down. So, he stood on the top of his foot and there was no way to wear shoes.”

Following a successful operation, Hadi is now wearing shoes for the first time and can stand flat on his feet. With the help of lower-leg braces and a physical rehabilitation team at Stanford, Hadi is ready to leave his new wheelchair behind and start walking on his own. Next, he looks forward to getting back into school so he can “be a surgeon, just like Dr. Rinsky.” 

 “This is a very bright young man,” Rinsky said. “He has a wonderful spirit and is making incredible progress. I think he has a good future ahead of him.”

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