A New Departure
Life-changing Surgeries at Azraq Refugee Camp
Text and photos by Clara Long, Media and Communications Officer, International Medical Corps UK
When Hajar first met with Dr Hamza at International Medical Corps’ hospital in Azraq Refugee Camp, she thought she was losing her mind.
For two years, she had been severely anaemic, constantly tired and often confined to her shelter.
Ordinary tasks like food shopping, spending time with her family or going to the toilet had become a struggle. But Hajar was also haunted by an unspoken agony – the overwhelming feeling of shame.
Hajar, a 39-year-old refugee from Homs, Syria, is not your ordinary patient, as soon as Dr Hamza examined her, the reason for her anaemia and fatigue quickly became clear: A very large fibroid - a benign tumour - was growing inside her womb. The size of it was large enough for people to believe that she was expecting another child. No wonder that seemingly ordinary tasks had become so difficult.
Living as a Syrian refugee at Azraq Refugee Camp, with limited aid and countless needs – Hajar’s condition, however complicated, had to give way for more urgent cases. Hajar was stuck, she was not sick enough to be put forward for surgery care but so unwell that she could not live a normal life. And things were getting worse. As the tumour grew, it required more blood — leaving Hajar tired to the edge of desperation.
It was not until the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), by request of International Medical Corps’ hospital manager Dr Hamza, stepped in and gave the green light for the surgery that Hajar could finally receive the treatment that she deserved, the treatment that she needed.
When the International Medical Corps team met with Hajar, she was recovering from her surgery. Having heard so much about her case, we visited her once again, two days after her surgery and were delighted to see how quickly she was recovering: Hajar is already walking less than 48 hours after surgery. For a speedy recovery, this is absolutely essential.
Hajar’s surgery is a testament to how large-scale aid truly can deliver life-changing impact. But Hajar’s intervention will not only benefit her health and well-being, it serves a greater purpose too. Dr Hamza wants more women to get the help Hajar did and he encourages his patients to speak to their community about the services the hospital provides.
This way, we break taboos and address silent struggles like the one Hajar faced. There really is no need for Hajar – or women just like her - to suffer in silence anymore.