Dana is a lovely 5-year-old girl from the Al-Fawwar refugee camp near Hebron. I first met Dana when I drove her with her mother, Saad, from the Bethlehem checkpoint to Hadassah Hospital.
The child has suffered since birth from Congenital Melanocytic Nevus which manifests itself in large ugly moles on her back, chest, arms, legs, and face.
The moles can be as large as 20 cm in size, pigmented, and often hairy. Beyond the severe aesthetic and emotional problems, the risk of developing melanoma exists, and reconstructive surgery is essential.
Dana was first operated at the age of two and her second surgery was at the age of three. The Palestinian authority refused to provide a financial commitment for additional treatments. Realizing the critical importance of this procedure for the child, my friends in Humans without Borders organized a spirited fund-raising campaign and managed to raise the money to pay for the surgery.
I drove Dana and her mother from the checkpoint and accompanied them until they were settled into a room in the hospital. Dana walked hand-in-hand with me all the way and I felt like a proud aunt. Leontine and I visited Dana a day or two after surgery and we brought her chocolate and a wool dog that she immediately hugged warmly.
It is difficult for us Israelis to understand that the Palestinian mother is completely alone in such a story. No family members are permitted to enter Israel and visit her, no brothers, grandmother, only her and Dana. Her father remains at home with the other children. Our visit was the closest thing there can be to family support.
The surgery is only the beginning of a long process. There are complex post-operative treatments and Dana will need additional surgery.