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

t swallow their own saliva and so they aspirate it into their lungs and may die of pneumonia. She would have died over there (without treatment)."

A single dose of oral steroids administered by UT physicians acted almost like a magic serum. Aram began to speak more clearly and talk to her family. "We usually don't see that much improvement that quickly," Mancias said.

"It's like a miracle in the sense she was unable to move for so long," El Khoury said.

For the family, it was the break they had prayed about.

The first sign that something was wrong with Aram came in 2007 when she began to lose her balance and fall for no apparent reason. In Iraq and Syria, her mother and father, Mohammad Yahia Ali, spent nearly all their income on physicians and tests trying to get Aram well. Her mother worked as the equivalent of a physician's assistant to a midwife while Mohammad worked in a restaurant.

They told their story recently while seated in their apartment living room, where they served tea, lemonade and cookies to their guests. Aram, wearing a princess shirt and tiara, sat nearby in a wheelchair but was eager to show her guests that she could take a few unassisted steps.

Acting as interpreter, El Khoury explained that Aram's parents were delighted when they finally received word that they would be able to travel to the United States for treatment.

"It was like a rebirth of Aram," translated El Khoury, as Kamila's eyes brimmed with tears. "She (Kamila) was convinced she would find an answer here. She didn't accept the verdict from the doctors they had seen. Because they felt the hope when they got the news they would be coming here, it changed their whole perspective."

They were told by the UN that their destination would be Houston because it was "a good place to treat neurological problems."

Aram was also looking forward to the trip for another reason. "Aram's only dream is
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SOURCE University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
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