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THE BOY WHO STOPPED GROWING

OMAR WAS BORN WITH A RARE HORMONE DEFICIENCY. WITHOUT ACCESS TO MEDICATION, THE YOUNG REFUGEE MAY REMAIN TRAPPED IN A TINY BODY.

Omar is too young to understand the consequences of the war; he goes to school with a smile that never leaves his face.  He was born with a rare hormone deficiency. Without access to medication, the young refugee may remain trapped in a tiny body.

Omar is precocious, but that’s not the only reason he seems so mature for his size. He looks like a five year old boy, yet, he is actually seven years old, he looks smaller than the other children and his voice is softer, but he is easily the most popular pupil – beloved by teachers and schoolmates alike.

Omar suffers from a growth hormone deficiency, the result of a dysfunctional pituitary gland, also known as the “master gland,” it regulates many bodily activities, including growth.

In Syria, he was receiving regular hormone and vitamin treatment to help him grow. But in Lebanon, where his family took refuge two years ago to escape deadly bombings near their home in Idlib, the treatment is too expensive even for aid organizations to cover.

Omar’s parents tell him eating will help him grow, but food can only do so much. Worry can be seen on their faces. They know that if their son doesn’t get his hormone treatment he will grow mentally, but not physically, and will fail to reach puberty. But Omar is too young to truly understand the consequences.

In an effort to encourage him, Omar’s parents have started paying him for the things he eats. Omar haggles with his father about the money he is owed; he complains that he will be unable to spend on his mother and sisters if his dad keeps withholding it from him.

When asked for his earliest memories of Syria, his answer was shocking, even for his mother, who didn’t realize the conflict’s impact on her son. “I remember when my uncle Ahmed was killed,” Omar says, softly. “He was hit with three bullets. One in his leg, one in his back, one in his shoulder. Then a lot of blood came out.”

Thankfully, there is hope for young Omar. He and his family are now being considered for resettlement in Europe, where his treatment can be paid for in full. It would mean moving far from home – further, even, than Lebanon – but for this loving, tight-knit family, it is Omar’s only and best chance to continue to grow.

Believe in Omar

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