Patients Stories


Patients at the RSP come from different countries in the Middle East, each suffering under conflict. As well as sharing a common language, patients share the residual trauma of war. While being treated at the RSP, sometimes for as long as one year, these war-wounded patients live, eat, sleep and share their stories together.

They are of all ages, from infants to adults, men and women, and together they are bound by the fact that their lives were impacted by wars. The patients all stay at the hospital in Amman for many months, sharing coffee and war stories, all with the hope of getting treatment that will put them back on their feet and allow to return home with dignity.



"When we left Iraq, Juana was not doing well. Her weight was low; around 8 kilos. She was at her worst when we came, and wasn’t eating and she wasn’t smiling at all. We are very grateful to have met Doctors Without Borders, and are grateful they operated on her; both operations were successful. Now, after the operation, she is eating and is 2 kilos heavier; and thankfully, Juana smiles now."

Juana's grandmother

Juana was just eight months old when her parents tried to flee Mosul, Iraq- which was under siege from the Islamic State group at the time.

In their attempt to escape, the young family hit a landmine- killing Juana’s father instantly, severely injuring Juana’s mother with shrapnel wounds to the chest and lungs, and leaving Juana with extreme nerve damage to her left leg.

Unable to leave, Juana’s grandparents tended to them for eighteen days, medicating their fevers and infections with paracetamol, and moving from house to house through a network of basements. They were refused treatment at the local hospitals, and Juana’s mother continued to lose blood and energy. They knew that she needed medical treatment desperately.

With no choices left, the family decided to flee again to improve their chances of survival. During this second attempted escape from the city, Juana’s mother and uncle were killed by snipers. She and her grandparents survived.

In Iraq, they sought private treatment for Juana. In addition to the nerve damage, Juana had a cleft palate opening at birth that required surgery. The costly surgery to the damage nerve was unsuccessful, and local doctors refused to operate on the cleft palate. They were then referred to the Reconstructive Surgery Programme, in Amman, Jordan.

When Juana and her grandmother, Salima, arrived to the Amman Hospital- where she was and is the youngest patient, at two years old- she weighed just under 8 kilos. She was not walking; she was not sleeping; she was not eating; and she was not laughing.

After several orthopedic surgeries, surgery on her cleft palate, and physiotherapy with her favourite therapist Yazan, Juana is now standing with the support of a walker and has taken her first steps at the RSP. With the help of a speech therapist she is also speaking her first words- ‘mama’, which she directs to her grandmother.

Without the support and generosity of people like you, without organizations like Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) / Doctors Without Borders, and without programmes like the Reconstructive Surgery Programme, Juana would not have access to the medical care she received and continues to receive.

Day by day, Juana is evolving into an inquisitive, playful, social, and loving child. She no longer chooses to isolate herself, and no longer clings onto her grandmother in tears. Juana takes great pleasure in making the morning rounds through the hospital wards, waving and greeting all those who cross her path on the way to the playground, where she can easily spend all day on the swings, making friends and new childhood memories.

With your support, we are able to ensure that patients like Juana- and their families- are taken care of, as they continue to heal and recover from the wounds of war.



"Hope that Abdulbari continues to work hard at school and continues to receive an education. His hand was amputated and he won’t be able to work as others would. I hope he studies, succeeds and becomes a professional. This is what we hope."

Abdulbari’s father

Like many seven-year-olds, Abdulbari’s eyes shine with an innate curiosity and excitement about the world. Sharp and chatty, Abdulbari is a natural conversationalist, asking questions about anything and everything, particularly football, his favourite pastime. When not in the classroom, Abdulbari can be found in the playground, kicking around a ball with friends of all ages.

In many ways, Abdulbari is no different to any other seven-year-old, until you notice he’s missing his right arm and right leg.

Two years ago, Abdulbari and his family were caught up in the fighting that has scoured their hometown of Aden, Yemen. He was five years’ old at the time, only three days into his first week at school. Abdulbari was asleep at home with his parents, his siblings and a cousin when an explosion hit their house. Every member of the family was struck by shrapnel. Abdulbari lost his right arm and right leg, and badly damaged his left leg. His brother, Saleh, received the worst of the injuries.

The family was taken by paramedics to the MSF hospital in Aden, where they were treated for several months. Unfortunately, Saleh succumbed to his wounds.

Abdulbari’s doctors and parents decided that he should continue his treatment at the MSF Reconstructive Surgery Programme (RSP) in Amman, Jordan. There, he would receive specialised care to help him regain his independence.

In Amman, doctors were able to perform a successful adjustment surgery on Abdulbari’s injured left leg, greatly increasing his mobility. Abdulbari was also chosen to receive a prosthetic arm and leg, created using a 3D printer, a faster and lower-cost alternative to conventional prosthetics. The prosthetics were customised to fit his needs and he has taken to them very well, perhaps too well, given that he broke one of his new fingers in a football game – as a typical seven-year-old might.

Abdulbari has also been able to finally start school; MSF runs classes for the children staying at the RSP, with a customised curriculum to cater to each student’s needs. He is learning how to read and is practicing his motor-skills to enable him to write with his left hand. It is a challenge, but one that Abdulbari and his family are optimistic he will meet.

With the support of our generous donors and supporters, MSF is able to take a holistic and long-term approach to patient care at the RSP. Whether it is through cutting-edge technological solutions, such as 3D printing, or providing customised schooling, the RSP continues to prioritise the improvement of its patients’ quality of life.



"Since coming to Amman, my spirit has improved drastically, in addition to my physical progress. I am excited to go through life like any other person, and excited to go back home and study for my Master’s and continue my education."


It was 2014. Iraqi Jamal Awwad and his family had been forced to move twice already due to the war, and now found themselves in a small town outside of Kirkuk. A young university graduate, Jamal was desperate for work. After a rigorous search he was able to find a job at a bakery. It wasn’t much, but it was enough.

A few months into the job, an explosion hit the bakery and Jamal suffered extensive burns to half his body. He was rushed to hospital and was in and out of consciousness for 10 days while he received emergency treatment. Two months later, he was discharged with lingering burns on his right arm, and damage to his left hand (around the fingers and the palm) that affected how he could use it.

Still eager to work, Jamal began to again look for a new job. Due to the economic climate, the war and his new disability, he was not lucky. For almost two years, Jamal searched in vain.

“I was devastated after my accident; it occupied my mind day and night. I was trapped in a negative cycle – convinced that I would never find work. It affected me a lot. I tried to find any job, but they didn’t accept my application in any restaurant or the army because of the burns. Nobody accepted me.”

During that time, a friend told him about MSF’s Reconstructive Surgery Programme (RSP) in Amman, Jordan and Jamal gave them a call. A few months later his case was approved and he was transferred to the Amman Hospital, where his arm and hand were operated on.

Jamal is recovering well, regaining the use of his arms and hands, but he still has a few months of recovery left in Amman. He is using this time to focus on his personal and educational development. When not at the hospital, Jamal can be found atop a nearby hill, his head buried in whatever book he’s reading at the time. He is preparing for the entrance exams for a Master’s programme in Islamic Science and Philosophy. After that, he might continue to a PhD as well.



“I was in a difficult situation due to my injury. But I transformed these lifeless tools that I needed to walk [his crutches] into a musical instrument that brings happiness to people around me. At the same time, I bring happiness to myself. I’m learning to turn my sadness into joy.”


Twenty-three-year-old Eyad from Gaza is one of the Amman Hospital’s more popular patients. An entertainer at heart, Eyad is often stopped in the corridor or the recreational areas, with requests for songs and magic tricks. Eyad is a talented musician; he was able to transform one of his crutches into a flute after his instruments were broken and confiscated at the Israeli border as he was leaving Gaza. Even in the case of medical emergencies, movement in and out of Gaza is extremely restricted.

For him and for Eyad and other patients, the music is a welcome interruption to their daily treatment routines.

“I was in a difficult situation due to my injury. But I transformed these lifeless tools that I needed to walk [his crutches] into a musical instrument that brings happiness to people around me. At the same time, I bring happiness to myself. I’m learning to turn my sadness into joy.”

Eyad was shot in his right leg during the March of Return protests. He was still conscious and losing a great deal of blood when the paramedics brought him to the Intensive Care Unit. He fell into a coma and remained that way for three days. His wounds, like many others injured during the protests, were very complex and could not be easily stitched up. The bullets had shattered his bones and severely damaged his nerves. They had to be operated on multiple times before his wounds were fully cleaned and could be closed.  

Given the severity of his injuries, Eyad was admitted to the Reconstructive Surgery Programme in Amman, Jordan (RSP) for further treatment. MSF was able to organise his travel and obtain the necessary authorisation for his treatment outside of the Gaza strip.

“Back home in Gaza, we are living under siege, we don’t have the healthcare capabilities and equipment that will allow me to recover. But thanks to God and thanks to MSF, I was transferred to Amman, where I received free treatment and went through my bone surgery with success.”

Eyad is slowly regaining his mobility as his leg continues to calcify , but his treatment journey is far from over. On top of his physical injuries, Eyad has had to overcome many mental roadblocks with the help of the psychosocial services at the RSP. Now he is focused on the future, developing his music skills and moving on from the dark feelings of hopelessness that haunted him after he was shot. He will require more surgery to address the nerve damage in his leg in the coming six months, once his strength and energy levels have improved.

Holistic and long-term patient care are priorities at MSF, and we would not have been able to provide Eyad with the physical and psychosocial care he needed at RSP without the support of donors like you.



“I have had to face many situations where people mocked me or looked at me with pity. In Yemen, I stopped going to school for a while because of how all the boys and girls were staring at me. I used to cry when I heard them saying cruel things about me and my appearance.”


For a 13-year-old, Ekhtiar is remarkably self-aware. With burn scars visible on her face and hands, she has had no choice but to acquaint herself with the often-unkind gaze of strangers. She has had to mature very fast for her young age.

“I have had to face many situations where people mocked me or looked at me with pity. In Yemen, I stopped going to school for a while because of how all the boys and girls were staring at me. I used to cry when I heard them saying cruel things about me and my appearance.”

When she was only four, Ekhtiar was injured in a gas explosion in her family home in Yemen, which left her with burns over most of her body. In the years since then, she has sought treatment in Yemen,  Egypt, and finally in Jordan where she was referred to MSF’s Reconstructive Surgery Programme (RSP) in Amman.

During her stay at the hospital, doctors were able to improve the mobility in Ekhtiar’s hands and neck, and performed plastic and maxillofacial surgeries on her face to improve her vision and breathing and reduce her scarring.

“Before, I couldn’t recognise myself, but now thankfully I’m much better and can see myself more clearly.”

In addition to her physical recovery, Ekhtiar has been thriving at the RSP’s school. MSF runs classes for the children staying at the RSP, created with a customised curriculum to cater to each student’s needs. Now in fifth grade, Ekhtiar never misses a class or an activity, and often attends classes designed for other grades to maximise her education. She particularly enjoys her English and Science classes.

“In Yemen, honestly I wasn’t feeling well. When I came here, Mr. Khalid, Ms. Aya, and Ms. Sara  encouraged me to move past my burns and get an education. Since coming to the RSP, I learned that we should face life head on, and that the most important thing is to have education and achieve our goals.”

Now, Ekhtiar wants to focus on her education and someday become a doctor working for a not-for-profit organisation that benefits society. She would like to help people, and encourage others with disabilities to see past their limitations and live a fuller life.

It is because of generous donor support that we are able to help women like Ekhtiar heal from the physical and psychosocial wounds of war, and see themselves and their potential more clearly.

Open My Eyes - Qusay

Open My Eyes - Qusay

“I needed to go to a country that believes in me. When people think ‘refugee,’ I’m one of them. [But] people don’t identify me, I identify myself.”


Friends of MSF,

Thank you for your generous support, for listening to the stories of our patients at the Reconstructive Surgery Programme (RSP) in Amman, and for your interest in learning more about the ongoing work we do at Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

This World Refugee Day, we are excited to share the story of a former MSF patient, Qusay Hussein, who at just 17 years old, was severely injured and blinded in a suicide bombing near Mosul, Iraq.

After hearing about the MSF Reconstructive Surgery Programme in Amman on television, Qusay applied and was quickly accepted into the hospital, where he spent three years undergoing over 35 surgeries, slowly rebuilding his life and sense of self.

Today, Qusay is reinventing himself again. This time, as a refugee and advocate for other vulnerable people, living in Austin, Texas, he is, against all odds, building a new life for himself. “I needed to go to a country that believes in me. When people think ‘refugee,’ I’m one of them. [But] people don’t identify me, I identify myself.” 

Open My Eyes- an intimate documentary produced by MSF- is the story of Qusay.

One refugee.

One young man among, millions of people who have surmounted unimaginable obstacles on their way to find safety.

Learn more about Qusay’s extraordinary journey - from struggling with the painful aftermath of the attack in Iraq, to rebuilding his life at an MSF hospital in Jordan, to reinventing himself again in the US -in this short film, which reminds us of our shared humanity, and the far-reaching ripple effects of compassion and care.

By supporting Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), it is you who makes it possible for our teams to deliver medical care to people in desperate need - including refugees like Qusay.

As long as people are suffering from the effects of violent conflict, natural disasters, epidemics, and malnutrition, MSF will have an ongoing need for your help. Our response depends on your response.

Thank you for your continued support,

Mario Stephan