By Faten Omar

KUWAIT: According to the World Health Organization, every year the lives of approximately 1.3 million people are cut short as a result of road traffic crashes. Between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury. In this context, Neurosurgeon Dr Hassan Khajah revealed that the increase in paralysis cases in Kuwait is attributed to many factors, mainly due to traffic accidents in which drivers use the phone while driving. He noted that the age category that comes in emergency rooms in hospitals due to accidents ranges from 16 to 30 years old.

Khajah, who is a consultant in Neurosurgery, Spine, and Radiosurgery, told Kuwait Times that many serious injuries happen from wrong practices while driving, including posting on social media while behind the wheel. He added that fractures, partial or complete paralysis are among those serious injuries. He revealed that Kuwait receives scores of cases per day due to car accidents, and his clinic receives not less than five cases per day, adding that even after the surgery, the patients will not become the same as before, but rather chronic diseases will be caused.

"A person lost his whole back because he had an accident on his motorbike. He had a serious avulsion road rash when he fell from his bike and dragged along rough asphalt. We had to make a special opening for stool to leave the body. If a person comes out of the accident alive, his recovery may take months, apart from the hundreds of thousands that are paid for surgical operations, and in the end, he may suffer a permanent disability," he added.

Meanwhile, Khajah stressed that Kuwait is among the advanced countries in the field of medical technology, adding that the era of modern medical technology has enabled doctors to put an end to the suffering of patients with congenital malformations of the skull and spine. "Implanting the battery in the spinal cord costs KD 50,000 outside Kuwait. In Kuwait, the value of the device is KD 10,000," he pointed out. "The battery is a substance called Lioresal. There are pills, used as muscle relaxants, but their effect is intense. We have cases such as cerebral palsy, stroke, or brain hemorrhage. In this case, the body does not control the state of relaxation. For example, if the person groped the pen, his muscles will not allow him to drop it, which causes muscle tension, pain, and damage to the joints. So, we implant a battery to relax the muscles, relieve pain and preserve the body parts in order to not damage the joints, and we aim for nursing care."

Dr Hassan Khajah poses in his clinic.

"When I traveled to Sweden, I was surprised by the presence of a whole team specialized in neurosurgery, he noted. "When I returned to Kuwait in 2004, I transferred this technology to Kuwait, and the Ministry of Health provided batteries, and within a year and a half, nearly 50 batteries were implanted in Kuwait." Khajah said that his name is registered in the United States of America and Scandinavia as a consultant for any case in the Gulf region, adding, "They contact me to take the first approval on the case. They have trusted me as the person in the Gulf to follow up on these cases."

Regarding the battery, he said, "Since then, we started implanting batteries and formed a unit to follow up on patients and making sure the batteries and the appropriate doses are available. When I see the patient has muscle tension, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy, I operate trail implanting before transplanting the actual battery. I place a small tube in his back, peak effect for eight hours, and during that, if I find him ready for transplant, I give him 100 micrograms and program the battery to inject this percentage within the 24 hours. The Ministry of Health provided the needed ampoules for KD 220-250, while the battery needs four ampoules. The battery should be changed every five to six years."

'Gamma Knife' is a device Dr Khajah managed to bring to Kuwait to treat tumors, vascular malformations, and other abnormalities in the brain, explaining that the machine is used for surgical operations on brain tumors without a scalpel, just operating the surgery by radiation. He revealed that Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf that provides it, saying that it was an important technology in neurosurgery because brain and nerve devices are expensive, and even the surgeon must be knowledgeable and must rely on himself without the help of others.

"The operations' methods have changed in the past 20 years," he said. "The methods have become easier, save half the time, and the success rate is better. Medicine must be developed, and development does not require attending abroad forums; the information can be accessed even through YouTube."

Khajah told Kuwait Times that some operations for removing tumor of the base of the brain take 48 hours. "The most difficult operation for me was in Jahra Hospital at midnight. A policeman was involved in a car accident, and was left with a severe head injury. I was alone, and the success rate was half a percent. The operation was very dangerous, and I had to remove half of the skull to preserve the patient's life, and there was bleeding everywhere. His surviving was a miracle," he added.