December 18, 2015
PHOTO shows, Khadija Belkhair with her mother Irina Antonemko and Dr. Steven Rothenberg (credit: CBS)
DENVER (CBS4) – A 6-year-old girl from Dubai is up and eating after surgery at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.
Khadija Belkhair was born with a severe esophageal stricture, short esophagus, and hiatal hernia, making it difficult for her to swallow. “When I was eating, it was going down and then up,” explained Khadija.
It became a real problem for the girl when she turned two.
Her parents struggled to get a proper diagnosis before finally finding surgeons in Moscow who were ready to perform a major open chest surgery that would have included removing her esophagus.
But her mother, Irina Antonemko, had been researching the condition on the Internet and that’s where she found information about Dr. Steven Rothenberg, the Chief of Pediatric Surgery at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.
“I very carefully study and read everything that he is doing,” Antonemko said, “that he has created during all his experience.”
Antonemko tracked down Rothenberg to Denver and emailed him to see if he would treat Khadijia.
“One of our specialties is being able to do this minimally invasive without making big incisions,” explained Rothenberg.
“Her mother had sent me some information and told me of what the planned surgery was in Moscow. When I looked at the X-rays and I said I thought that might not be necessary.
“I thought it might be possible to dilate the stricture, open it up and then pull the stomach back down into the abdomen and fix the hole in the diaphragm that was allowing it to go up there.”
The doctors performed the surgery on December 10 and by the time we met Khadijia on Dec. 17, she was dancing and singing around the hospital lobby. “She looks terrific,” said Rothenberg. “She looks like she didn’t have surgery.”
It’s a sentiment her mother echoes.
“It is a huge difference. She was feeling… the third day after the operation,” Antonemko said.
“I’m sure now that all our family life will be different, it’s like (having) a newborn.”
But Rothenberg explained there’s this case is about more than just the surgery, pointing to Antonemko’s determination to make sure her daughter got the right treatment.
“I think the real lesson here is the greatest advocated for children are their parents.”
As for Khadijia, she’ll head back to Dubai with a sparkly pair of cowboy boots from Colorado and a taste for caviar from Russia.
If you are interested then emailing send Steve Wyles (owner of this website) an Email and we can help link you up with Steven Rotherbergs Team