Teen travels half way across globe for life-changing surgery

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Six months ago, Qais Dousin never could he have imagined the rare condition he was born with, tibial pseudarthrosis, would bring him to a grass-lined street in Tampa, to the top of a roller coaster at Busch Gardens, or to a host family he'll never forget.

"He says that we are, we are not friends, we are his family," said Hakeem Abunada, the president of the Tampa chapter of the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund. "We have become an extension of his family."

Doudin is unlucky, in that he was born in the west bank of the Palestinian territories, an area with few advanced medical facilities. But his luck turned when Shriners Hospital and the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund brought him to America to have surgery.

In April, doctors amputated one of his legs and took the first steps to straighten the other. Now, Shriners Children's Hospital is helping Dousin with his rehabilitation. Part of the work includes teaching him to use a prosthetic leg.

His other leg is being straightened with a series of pins and braces. The goals are to give him a more typical stride, and end the leg pain he's had since he was born.

"In times of difficulty, he recognized that patience leads to positive outcome," said Abunada.

The case is more complicated, medically, than doctors first thought. His recovery time has jumped from four months to a year.

"The next goal is he just started weight bearing," said Dr. Richard Radecai. "The therapist will work on weight bearing, as he tolerates it."

He has learned a lot about the United States. And he hopes we learn from him.

"Unlike what he hears back in his homeland, he encountered a lot of respectful people, loving, compassionate people, and he actually loves America," Abunada said. "His goal is to walk again, not just for himself, but so he can be a source of inspiration for people in his village, in his homeland, for others across the world."

Dousin is going to be honored for his courage by the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund at a gala on Sunday. The group hopes to raise money for a new cancer hospital in Palestine.

For more information on the fundraising gala, you can head to: https://www.facebook.com/events/201697993581414/