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Toledo group helps Palestinian girl to get hip replaced; fund-raiser in Sylvania

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Dima Ershaid, left, along with her husband and four children, are hosting 13-year-old Sondos Aleyyadeh at their Maumee home.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
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Sondos Aleyyadeh,13, arrived in the United States last week, and for the first time the Palestinian child saw a movie in a cinema.

Her hometown of Hebron, a Palestinian city in the West Bank, does not have a movie theater. But she didn’t travel this far to see a movie. She came here to receive free hip-replacement surgery.

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund Toledo Chapter will host its first fund-raising event, and in attendance will be Sondos, one of the first children to benefit from the local nonprofit organization’s generosity.

The Winter Gala will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Franciscan Center on the Lourdes University campus in Sylvania. Chapter President Amal Dudar is proud that the chapter is helping its first child before its first anniversary in July.

“If your team does not have the resources, it means nothing if you know how to perform a procedure,” she said. Ms. Dudar, a physician’s assistant, said the area where Sondos lives has talented doctors but lacks the proper equipment to perform such a procedure.

Founded in the 1990s, the organization aims to address the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East as well as provide medical attention to children.

“My doctor said he performed the surgery three times before, but he lied,” said Sondos, translated by her host mother, Dima Ershaid.

In her home country, another doctor performed a hip replacement, but it was unsuccessful, she said.

Sondos walks in pain because one leg is longer than the other; she was born with a dislocated hip.

Dr. Steve Haman, of the Orthopaedic Institute of Ohio in Lima, will perform the surgery.

Caring for Sondos during her stay are Mrs. Ershaid and her husband, Dr. Nasfat Shehadeh, 45, an oncologist at Mercy Hospital. They live in Maumee.

Sondos arrived Feb. 6, and already Mrs. Ershaid, 40, has introduced her to Chick-fil-A and pizza.

Asked how she liked the new food, she smiled and said she loves it. She admitted she was scared about the journey and leaving her family because she had never traveled outside of her country.

“Her father had to drive her to the Jordanian border,” Mrs. Ershaid said. “Palestinians are not allowed to leave from the nearby Tel Aviv airport.”

So Sondos was driven for three hours, only to wait in line after line. She went through a four-hour process at the border, Sondos said.

After she crossed into Jordan, her experience, including the flight, turned out to be pleasant. She said she is “very happy” to be here. She talks daily with her parents, and her host family has embraced her as one of their own children.

“She doesn’t fall back in school. We are keeping her up on her educational lessons in Palestine,” Mrs. Ershaid said. “She is like my daughter. I was asked to take care of her. So I have to take care of her.”

Sondos visits the doctor Wednesday for a preoperative exam, and surgery is expected to be scheduled shortly after that. Because Sondos is young and healthy, Ms. Dudar expects she will have a quick recovery.

For information about the gala and the Children's Relief Fund Toledo chapter, click here.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso. 

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