For Immediate Release
August 24, 2016
This morning, Moaz and Nawras al-Hishoysh, the conjoined twins born with two conjoined hearts, passed away in Damascus while awaiting medical evacuation. Born on July 23, the twins were evacuated from their home in the besieged town of East Ghouta on August 12 by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) to a private hospital in Damascus after extensive pressure from humanitarian organizations.
Without disclosing any information about their status, SARC kept Moaz and Nawras at a private hospital in Damascus for almost two weeks despite the urgency of their case. The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) was working actively along with other humanitarian groups, to secure the evacuation of the twins abroad for the needed surgery; however, lack of cooperation from the Syrian government and SARC hindered the evacuation process.
SAMS developed a robust plan to evacuate the twins abroad and received commitments from specialized hospitals in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East to perform the needed surgery at no cost, said SAMS President, Dr. Ahmad Tarakji. We even offered to provide 24-hour medical consultation using our tele-icu program. However, all of our efforts and requests were ignored. The tragic death of these two brave souls could have easily been prevented. This is unacceptable.
The long and difficult process behind medical evacuations in Syria has led to the deaths of too many innocent Syrians living under siege. Syrian children like Moaz and Nawras often bear the consequences of bureaucratic delays driven by political interests. Medical evacuations should never be politicized and the needs of the patients must be prioritized in these critical cases.
International law guarantees access to healthcare for all. This right continues to be denied to civilians in Syria. SAMS urges the international community and humanitarian actors to respect the right to health and to prioritize the evacuation of critical medical cases.