Shriners help Palestinian teen get life-changing surgery

- Qais Doudin is about to lose a leg, and he couldn't be happier about it.

Doudin just turned 18. He was born with tibial pseudarthrosis, a rare deformation that makes it hard - and painful - to walk.

"When I asked why, for him to elaborate," said translator Hakeem Abunada, "he said, 'Because I am going to fix my life.'"

Doudin is unlucky, in that he was born in the west bank of the Palestinian territories, an area with few advanced medical facilities.

"The biggest challenge is doing normal things," said Abunada, who is also the head of the Tampa chapter of the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, "Hanging out with his friends, playing sports, he loves soccer but he can't play."

But he is also lucky in that Shriner's hospital and the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund, brought him to America to have surgery.

One leg will be amputated and the other straightened out. He'll be outfitted with an advanced prosthetic, and trained to use it.

"In the world we live in, it is very easy to get distracted with differences that divide us," said Abunada. "If we can put our differences aside, I think all of us can agree that kids need help."

He is staying with a host family northeast of Tampa, a husband, wife and four children, and made fast friends with fourteen-year-old Maher.

"He said that the people I have met thus far are among the most loving people he has ever met," said Abunada.

He says he's not scared, and is in fact hopeful, that losing a leg will be a new beginning for a life that he hopes will include college and helping others.

"This is how God made (him)," said Abunada. "I appreciate everything God has given me, I appreciate everything God has taken away from me, and I also appreciate everything I want to improve in my life."

His surgery is scheduled for April 27th, and he'll be here for two more months afterwards as he adjusts to a new life.

Shriner's international program has treated 41 children from sixteen countries since 2015.

He is the first from Palestine.

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