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Saving Aysha

Cedars-Sinai Surgeon Restores Hand Movement for a Girl Severely Injured in Syrian Bomb Blast

Saving Aysha

One night nearly three years ago, a barrel bomb exploded outside Aysha Al Saloom's home in northern Syria, as the 5-year-old girl lay sleeping in her bed.

The blast left Aysha severely burned and disfigured, turning her hands into stiff balls of flesh and unable to hold a crayon or feed herself.

Seeking medical care and a better life for her daughter, Aysha’s mother, Hana Al Saloom, fled the violence of their native Idlib province, one of the last major rebel strongholds in Syria’s civil war.

Over the next three years, mother and daughter made their way to Turkey, eventually landing in Los Angeles. The trip and Aysha’s medical treatment were made possible by the Burnt Children Relief Foundation which sponsored them.

Aysha endured 20 surgeries to repair her broken and scarred body, but her hands remained lifeless.

Until now.

David Kulber, M.D., director of Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery at Cedars-Sinai, rebuilt Aysha's hands through multiple surgeries, allowing the precocious 8-year-old to be able to return to doing the things she loves: writing, drawing and dancing.

Dr. Kulber is one part of an international effort to save Aysha. The Children’s Burn Foundation, the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles, and several humanitarian organizations continue to come together to give Aysha a second chance.

Since arriving in America, Aysha has taught herself English by watching Saturday cartoons and joking with her healthcare providers. She has once again become the active, perky girl she was in Syria before her injury.

“The inquisitive mind, positive attitude and joy with which this little girl approaches life, are inspiring,” Kulber said. “She has turned a terrible tragedy into a positive and makes you realize that there is always hope.”