Lesvos, Greece: A good-hearted girl in need of heart surgery

By Georgia Trismpioti, IFRC

22-year-old Nour from Syria was lying under an olive tree in distress. She was nine months pregnant with her fifth child and feeling unwell. That is where I found her, and immediately called for assistance. Two nurses from the Hellenic Red Cross came to examine her health condition and give her comfort.

Nour’s family decided to flee to Turkey after their house in Syria was destroyed by a bomb. They attempted to cross the border but were turned back five times before they succeeded. She just couldn’t give up – she wanted to give her children a “better life and a brighter future.”

From Turkey, the family crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece only to find themselves in the notorious Moria camp on the island of Lesvos. A year ago, when they had settled down in Moria, Nour realized that she had to fight yet another battle.

Her 3-year-old daughter, Tabia (which means good-hearted in Arabic), was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, “a hole in the heart”, which has a mortality rate of 90 per cent before age 10.

“I have to save Tabia. She needs to be treated otherwise her life is at risk. We had an appointment at the Tzaneio hospital in Athens for a surgery, but the fires destroyed all my hopes,” said Nour.

After devastating fires destroyed Moria camp, Nour and her family were not allowed to leave the island, so they were not able to transfer Tabia to the hospital in Athens for her surgery appointment.

“My life is a daily struggle here in Lesvos. There’s dust, noise, lack of water, everything,” said Nour. “It's better than living in the street but still is so bad. I don’t want to give birth here.”

Thanks to coordinated actions with IOM and UNHCR, it was quickly decided to transfer Nour and her family to a safer and more appropriate place for her to give birth.

Upon hearing the good news, Nour held my hands tightly saying with a sparkling smile, “Thank you so much. Red Cross nurses made me feel that I am respected again because there are people who care about me.”

How Tabia’s heart condition is going to be treated is still a concern.

Related news