Saudi Arabia to Nebraska – baby Jana’s long journey for treatment

“The answer was here, at The Nebraska Medical Center.  We are amazed with the advanced level of medicine and modern technology.  We thank God for his mercy and the doctors who took excellent care of Jana,” praised Mr. Mesfer Al Yami. 
The Al Yami family courageously flew half way across the world from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with poignant anticipation and high hopes to save the life of their beloved baby, Jana.  The transplant team and the International Healthcare Services (IHS) at the Nebraska Medical Center/the University of Nebraska Medical Center (TNMC/UNMC) held their hope for a successful treatment and triumphantly delivered.

Jana Al Yami, a 19-month baby from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was born with a neuronal dysplasia causing intestinal failure that left her dependent upon total parenteral nutrition (TPN – tube feeding).  She then developed life threatening complications related to TPN.  For more than a year, the family relentlessly explored every option to save baby Jan’s life. Through IHS’s international relationships in Saudi Arabia, the Al Yami family learned of TNMC/UNMC’s transplantation services and excellence.  IHS assisted the family in making all the arrangements for the family to travel to Omaha for the expert medical treatment that couldn’t be offered at home. 

Jana is the 6th daughter of Mr.  & Mrs. Mesfer Al Yami. Jana underwent an intestinal transplant in November 2009.  Although Jana is still an outpatient staying in the Omaha area, she is being prepared by the Transplant Team to go home to be with her sisters and brothers who miss her very much.

 The Al Yami family credits Jana’s recovery to the staff who cared for her. “At the Nebraska Medical Center, we found a loving family that never spared any effort to make our stay as comfortable as possible. The humanity and emotional support have been unbelievable. We never felt like we were strangers among this group of friends and we are so happy that we came here!” 

Debb Andersen, Manager of the Liver/Intestinal Transplant Program states, “The transplant program has always embraced patients from other countries. The hospital community and the local community have also embraced our international patients by taking the extra time to communicate with them, respect their cultural diversity, provide interpretation and just to be understanding of what they are going through so far away from home. We have had the opportunity to learn so much about their cultures and in turn they have the chance to see our culture first hand, too. When we do this, we find that the rest of the world is not so large and different than us after all”.
Intestinal transplants have become an accepted treatment option for people with intestinal failure who also experience life-threatening complications related to total parenteral nutrition (TPN).  TNMC/UNMC program is one of the largest intestinal transplant programs in the world. The United Network for Organ Sharing, the department of Health and Human Services that oversees organ allocation, allows a program of up to 5% of their volume for the transplantation of non-US citizens.  

 The International Healthcare Department was created to support families like Jana’s during their lengthy medical stays in the Omaha.  “With the help of the dedicated staff at TNMC/UNMC, IHS has had the privilege to arrange for the treatment of hundreds of patients who choose TNMC/UNMC for treatment of complicated cases. Our international team of experts provides patients with all their needs – setting up appointments, assistance with billing, banking, visa, housing, interpretations, special meals, cultural and social needs, site seeing, and other concierge-type services”, said Nizar Mamdani, Executive Director of IHS.  “I have personally experienced how difficult it is to be thousands of miles away from home while receiving care. Receiving medical treatment for transplant patients can be both very exhausting and frustrating to the family as well as the patient. It is our mission in the IHS department to help ease all of these extraneous burdens that are inherent in any hospital care”.

Mr. Al Yami also expressed his appreciation by “thanking the authorities in Saudi Arabia who supported us through this difficult experience and gave us this life changing opportunity”.

 For any assistance with traveling patients and families, call International  Healthcare Services at 1-402-559-3656.

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