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Palestinian girl fights life-threatening condition

By Paula Hancocks, CNN
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Fighting for life
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Three-year-old Aya abu Mou has oxalosis, a condition which occurs when the kidneys fail
  • The Palestinian girl must be taken regularly from West Bank village to Israeli hospital for treatment
  • If she doesn't have a liver and kidney transplant she could die within months
  • A hospital in Belgium could help, but the cost is unaffordable for her parents

(CNN) -- The second Aya abu Mouwais opens her eyes she starts crying. The three-year-old is in pain every waking moment and has been for two years.

She is suffering from oxalosis, a condition which occurs when the kidneys fail. Doctors in Israel say if the Palestinian girl doesn't have a liver and kidney transplant she could die within months.

Aya's mother Suhair wakes her gently. The pain in Suhair's eyes is clear with each of her daughter's sobs.

"It is so hard for me to see her like this," she said. Aya also has a broken arm, the dialysis she needs five days a week has made her bones brittle.

At sunrise, they leave their house in a northern West Bank village. The dialysis Aya needs is not available in any Palestinian hospital so Aya's father, Iyad, drives his wife and child to the border between the West Bank and Israel.

"This is very difficult, this is my child, my daughter," he said. "I drive them as far as the checkpoint then go home because we have other children to look after, two in school and two still toddlers."

Suhair said: "I have an eight-month-old baby. I have to leave him everyday. Imagine how difficult that is for him and for me."

I have an eight-month-old baby. I have to leave him everyday. Imagine how difficult that is for him and for me
--Suhair abu Mouwais, Aya's mother
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The round trip to the Israeli hospital of Rambam in Haifa is five hours. Each journey involves a 45-minute drive from their West Bank home to the border crossing where it can take up to an hour to enter into Israel. Then the family drives for another 45 minutes to the hospital for treatment.

Suhair has to carry her daughter as Aya can no longer walk. When they arrive at the hospital, the toddler undergoes four hours of dialysis, a treatment paid for by the Palestinian Authority.

Professor Israel Zelikovic, one of the Israeli doctors treating Aya said: "Simply, this dialysis treatment is life-saving for her, without daily dialysis therapy she would not live."

But dialysis is not enough anymore. Her doctors say if she doesn't have liver and kidney transplants she will not last a year.

Her parents are acutely aware of that. But only Israeli citizens are allowed organ transplants in Israel unless the patient sources organs themselves.

Doctors say a viable liver is simply too difficult to find independently.

There is one hope for Aya, according to both her doctors and parents.

A hospital in Belgium helps Palestinians to undergo transplants and might be able to help Aya, but the overall cost could exceed $700,000.

That's money Aya's parents can't even dream of, and money which the Palestinian Authority cannot afford.

Suhair tells us she lost a daughter eight years ago to the same disease and she cannot bear to lose Aya as well.

She doesn't allow herself the luxury of tears as she watches Aya's labored breathing, saying only that she prays to God for some country or even someone to help let her daughter live.