Tuesday 20 November 2018

Syrian girl born without legs gets new prosthetics in Turkey

Maya Meri was evacuated from Syria after she was filmed walking around on contraptions her father made from tuna cans, plastic tubes and fabric.

Maya Meri walks on prosthetic legs at a rehabilitation clinic in Istanbul (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Maya Meri walks on prosthetic legs at a rehabilitation clinic in Istanbul (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

By Zeynep Bilginsoy and Mehmet Guzel, Associated Press

An eight-year-old Syrian girl born without legs has received a new set of prosthetics in Turkey.

Maya Meri has been in the spotlight since images of her plight hit social media last month. She was filmed in a camp for the displaced in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province walking around on contraptions her father made from tuna cans, plastic tubes and fabric.

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Maya’s old makeshift legs made by her father (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

“I thought of doing something that would protect her while on the ground from stones and other things, so I made these limbs for her,” said her father, Mohammed.

Maya was born without legs because of a condition called congenital amputation. Her story moved one Turkish prosthetics specialist to reach out to Turkey’s largest humanitarian organisation, which evacuated her from Syria.

Maya is now in Istanbul with her father, who shares the same disability, where she is walking using her new prosthetics with the help of specialist Mehmet Zeki Culcu.

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Maya with her father Mohammed who has the same condition (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Originally from Aleppo province, the Meri family had to move to escape the fighting.

“We fled to an area that has not witnessed bombardment but it was difficult to live there in a tent on a mountain,” said Mohammed, who has five other children still in Syria with their mother.

In the Idlib camp, Maya and her father had to crawl on the bare earth to get anywhere. He said the little girl would be in pain because of the rugged terrain as she made her way to school.

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Maya is adjusting to her new prosthetics (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

The homemade prosthetics allowed her to move about more easily, and helped her learn how to balance, shortening a two-week process to a single day when she was fitted with her new legs. Mr Culcu, who took on her case pro-bono, thinks it will take about two-and-a-half months for her to be fully fitted.

“If Maya continues to learn so fast and be so enthusiastic, it might be completed in a shorter time,” he said.

Press Association

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