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Bionic limbs lift Gaza amputees’ self-esteem

Bionic limbs lift Gaza amputees' self-esteem

Ahmed Abu Hamda was able to play with his children and restore self-esteem thanks to a “smart” prosthetic hand that resembles human anatomy and motion, as part of a new initiative in the Gaza Strip, where conflict with Israel has left hundreds of Palestinians without limbs.

Myoelectric prostheses, motorized devices powered by batteries and controlled by electrical impulses created by muscles, have been provided by a Qatari-funded hospital in Gaza since March.

When explosive munitions detonated in 2007, Hamda, 36, lost his right hand. With his freshly fitted myoelectric limb, he can now play with his two children, eat, drink, and make home maintenance, he added.

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He told Dailion at Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics, “Since I got the limb, my outside appearance has improved, and people don’t realize I have an amputated hand.”

“I can drink water at home, and I can carry sacks and my phone to the market,” the satellite dish installer explained.

In the Palestinian territories, this is the first project of its kind. According to hospital officials, 21 amputees in Gaza have gotten “smart” limbs thus far, with another 40 on the waiting list.

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Among Gaza’s two million residents, the International Committee of the Red Cross lists at least 1,600 amputees. 532 Gazans have lost limbs in the confrontation with Israel, according to the Assalama Charitable Society, which provides for the injured and crippled.

The Hamad hospital, which opened in 2019, has treated hundreds of amputees. Qatar has spent more than $1 billion in Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist Hamas party, on construction and assistance programs since 2014.

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According to Noureldeen Salah, general director of Hamad hospital, patients are not charged for artificial limbs, with a “smart” prosthesis costing roughly $20,000.

Abu Hamda claims that now that he has his new artificial hand, he can completely enjoy life with his four-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son.

He smiled as he continued, “Now I can hold them, play with them, grasp their hands, and walk down the street.”

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