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Dubai: Doctor who has been volunteering in Gaza for 13 years raises funds for Palestinian children – News

Dr. Marc Sinclair. — Photos by Shihab/KT

Published: Wednesday, November 15, 2023, 6:00 am

For the past 13 years, Dr. Marc Sinclair, a Dubai-based pediatric orthopedic surgeon, has traveled to the Gaza Strip twice a year to help children with deformities and war injuries. Co-founder of The Little Wings Foundation (TLWF), Dr. Marc built a small, dedicated team that volunteers his time to help thousands of children in the Palestinian city.

Now, as Gaza suffers one of the worst attacks it has ever faced, Dr. Marc is asking for help to help as many doctors and patients as he can on the ground. “At the moment, no one is going to Gaza,” he said, speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of a fundraising dinner the organization organized in partnership with the Al Jalila Foundation.

At the event held in Dubai on Tuesday at Zinn Cafe, several UAE residents contributed generously. “However, we have contact with doctors on the ground and we know what they need. In fact, we have made a huge purchase of surgical instruments, nails, plates and everything necessary to treat fractures, as well as antibiotics and pain relievers. These items are currently in Egypt, from where it will be easier to bring them to Gaza.”

Dr. Marc and his team are working to get the equipment to the besieged city, but he says it could be weeks before their efforts bear fruit. “To be honest, it’s a process,” he said. “I mean that not even UNICEF and UNWRA are contributing what they want to contribute. So it’s really difficult. Hopefully it will be approved in the next two or three weeks.”

Additionally, the group is focused on the work that needs to be done in Gaza once the war ends. “We’ve always focused on children with orthopedic conditions,” he said. Now, there are a lot of crush injuries in those situations and buildings falling on children. That’s why we want to help them have a prosthesis so they can begin to rebuild their future.”

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Equipment donation

According to Dr. Marc, the situation on the ground is serious. “There are some surgeries that are performed without anesthesia,” he said. “Right now, doctors are asking for hand drills. Normally we have power tools. So, they boil down to two types of really medieval practices.”

Due to the needs, the TLWF team decided to open their storage facilities in Gaza to doctors on the ground who needed them. “We have a big warehouse in Khan Younis, in Gaza, with drills and things like that,” he said. “It’s all the equipment we’ve collected over the last 13 years. We opened it for them because they needed it. There is no justification for keeping your drills and implants if they are looking for it.”

However, Dr. Marc admitted that the group will have to start operations from scratch when they can do so in Gaza. He is hopeful that the team, which under normal circumstances would have been in Gaza right now, can return there in January 2024.

Bonds of love

The German doctor, who arrived in the United Arab Emirates more than 17 years ago, said the Palestinian cause has always been special to him. “I think there is nothing comparable to his situation in our world today,” he said. “I have experienced firsthand the difficulties of the city. So the more you get involved, the more you feel for them.”

Dr. Marc said he has come to deeply love the children he has operated on. “When you work with children and their prosthetics, you tend to develop a deep bond with them,” he said. “We follow patients for a long time. After surgery, we follow up. They may need another surgery in the future. So it is a very intimate relationship with the family, with the parents and with the child.”

Haya Shahin Al Khayyat, TLWF’s fundraising manager in the United Arab Emirates, said the group has remained in contact with several of its patients and local doctors during the ordeal that began on October 7. “We have been sending them messages and checking on them. ” she said.

He said the work the group does impacts families on multiple levels. “When you give prosthetics to a child who is immobile, it not only changes the child’s life but it impacts the entire family,” she said. “Then the child can go to school and be more mobile. They can get an education and it changes the course of their life. The mother, who would otherwise have had to carry the child, has much more freedom and more hours for herself than she could otherwise use.”

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