A chance encounter secures medical treatment for bomb blast victim

An Iraqi left with hearing loss following a horrific bomb attack was repeatedly denied permission to travel for medical treatment – until Tangiers International intervened.

The civilian contractor had sustained serious injuries to his tympanic membrane – otherwise known as the eardrum – and was unable to obtain adequate treatment within Iraq.

Medical case manager Bshar Ali located a hospital in Amman, Jordan, where the treatment could take place and began to arrange travel plans for the patient.

However, there was a problem. The patient came from the city of Ramadi, capital of the Anbar governorate and a particular hotspot for insurgent activity.

Despite applying twice for a Jordanian visa – including a so-called “VIP visa” which included an interview with security personnel – entry was denied.

Bshar said: “I don’t know the reasons that he was refused, but most likely it was security reasons because of where he lives. This is a particularly dangerous area. It’s where most of the Sunni insurgency is located and it’s pretty much the wild west.”

Medical options for patients seeking treatment within Iraq are often limited. Underfunded and ill-equipped medical facilities means misdiagnosis is all-too common.

This leaves patients with “low-value” or high-risk passports like Iraqis or Afghans struggling to obtain crucial medical care which will relieve their pain or allow them to lead a normal life following an injury.

With the patient denied entry, Bshar began to consider backup plans including seeking treatment in another country – although the risks of visa refusal still existed.

However, a chance encounter in Amman was to prove eventful.

“I was introduced to a very influential doctor there,” said Bshar. “I told him about our patient and his difficulties in getting treatment in Jordan. I gave the patient’s details and was told he would try and help.”

A short time afterwards, Bshar’s patient unexpectedly received a phone call. Seemingly out of the blue, his Jordanian visa had been issued.

“He was really surprised,” said Bshar. “He’d been rejected more than once, so to suddenly be told to come and pick up his visa was great.”

Travel plans were quickly put back into place and the patient was flown to Amman for medical treatment.

However, when he was assessed prior to surgery, doctors discovered his original diagnosis had been incorrect and that, in fact, he had been suffering from conductive hearing loss – caused by an obstruction preventing sound passing to the inner ear.

With the diagnosis cleared up and the procedure carried out, the patient was able to fly back to Iraq with his hearing improved and in considerably less pain.

“He’s very satisfied with the results,” said Bshar. “The near-constant pain in his ears has been fixed. If he did not go to Amman, he would still not be able to hear at this moment. And if he’d tried to have surgery in Iraq, it would have been even worse because of the misdiagnosis.”

Doctors estimated that the patient would reach maximum medical improvement in about two months, leaving him fit to return to work and everyday activities.