Occupied Palestinian territory | News | Press releases | 2011 | One child from the Gaza Strip: the obstacles to accessing health care

One child from the Gaza Strip: the obstacles to accessing health care

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Lutfi Ahmad Batriki, 12 years old, died July 27, 2011, of aplastic anemia, a serious disease but treatable by bone marrow transplantation, after being admitted to hospitals in Gaza and East Jerusalem, and during transfer to Egypt.

On June 12, Lutfi presented to the primary health care clinic in Shejaiya, Gaza, with a sore throat and blotching. The PHC referred him to Shifa hospital where he was admitted the next day, bleeding through his nose. Initial investigation showed abnormalities in his blood and bone marrow for which he was given transfusions of blood and platelets. Gaza does not have the laboratory capacity to perform bone marrow biopsy and analysis so, on June 18, Lutfi was given a referral to Augusta Victoria hospital in Jerusalem for further diagnosis and his family began the process of applying for a permit to cross Erez checkpoint.

On July 3, he traveled through Erez and was admitted to AVH where a diagnosis of aplastic anemia was confirmed. He developed fever which was treated and he received irradiated blood and platelets in view of his weakened immune condition. AVH contacted Hadassah Ain Karem for bone marrow transplantation but they had no available beds. In addition, they said they needed an already matched donor.

On July 13, Lutfi was discharged from AVH and returned to Shifa hospital in Gaza to wait for his new referral papers to Egypt, for donor matching and marrow transplantation. On July 19 he received the referral along with 5 family members for donor matching, but they required new passports to be processed. In the meantime, Lutfi received blood, but it could not be irradiated since Gaza lacks this equipment.

Lutfi’s condition deteriorated during the delay, and after eight days, on July 27, he along with five family members as potential donors, travelled by ICU ambulance to the Rafah border point. After crossing the Palestinian side, they waited 4 hours for the arrival of the Egyptian ambulance. After being transferred to the Egyptian ambulance (not an Intensive Care ambulance), his condition worsened rapidly after only one hour so he was taken to the nearest hospital in al-Areesh, where he died in the emergency room 30 minutes later. The same ambulance returned back to the Rafah border with his body.