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Physicians Heal Bridge to Nowhere; Iraqi Girl With Rare Neuromuscular Disorder Has New Hope
Date:11/13/2009

HOUSTON, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Plagued by a growing weakness that left her unable to walk, talk and even take a normal breath, 11-year-old Iraqi Aram Ali was a shell of the bright little girl she used to be.

No one could figure out what was wrong. Not the 13 doctors her distraught parents saw in Syria, not the specialists in Britain who had reviewed her chart, not the additional physicians she had seen in Iraq, the war-torn country the family had fled in a desperate effort to find the medical help the little girl needed.

In early 2009, her sobbing mother, Kamila Ali, sat in an office at the United Nations in Syria and gave an ultimatum: she wasn't leaving the building until they gave her an answer. She had to know whether they could emigrate to Europe or the United States to find someone who could help her ailing daughter.

Ten days later they had their answer and, for the first time since their nightmare began when Aram was 9, they had hope.

Their journey would lead them to The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, where pediatric neurologists and a gifted surgeon would put Aram on a very different path, one that led to a healthy life.

Ramy El Khoury, M.D., chief neurology resident at the UT Medical School at Houston, was one of the first physicians to see Aram after she arrived at the emergency room at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. She could barely breathe or move, he remembers.

"My first thought was that this girl is really sick and it is probably a complex mechanism that had not been diagnosed yet. She required pediatric ICU monitoring," said El Khoury, who was able to talk to the family in their native Arabic. "My second thought was that the family really needs help because it was their first experience with hospitalization in this country and they had to interact with so many people who spoke a different language."

According to the records the family b
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SOURCE University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
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