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Gazan woman from viral video receives prosthetic leg in Colorado

Gazan woman from viral video receives prosthetic leg in Colorado
Gazan woman from viral video receives prosthetic leg in Colorado 02:19

Ahed Bseiso arrived at Denver International Airport with her sister and Annie Clyborne, the Palestine Children's Relief Fund international pediatric healthcare coordinator, on Friday night. This was the easiest part of her journey from Gaza.

That journey began in December after the 18-year-old Palestinian's leg was mangled by an Israeli bomb and then amputated using dish soap and a kitchen knife. But without anesthesia. 

Bseiso was at her home getting ready for lunch with her family when an Israeli bomb hit their building. A wall fell on her legs. Her family rushed to dig her out of the rubble.

"As they were moving things and bringing her down, they noticed that her leg was literally in shards. Just pieces of string and stuff," Bseiso's interpreter conveyed.

Annie Clyborne, left, Ahed Bseiso, center, and Dr. Omar Mubarak CBS

Her uncle, who's a surgeon, cleared the table of food, grabbed a kitchen knife, chlorine and dish soap and amputated her leg. The whole procedure was captured on cell phone video.

"With no anesthesia or antiseptics," Bseiso said.

They lived approximately a mile from Al-Shifa Hospital but because of the war raging outside their damaged home, Bseiso had to spend days in her home under the care of her uncle, who had no medical supplies.

"She was coming in and out of waking," Bseiso's interpreter said.

She says every time he had to change her homemade bandages made of clothing it was excruciating pain. Meanwhile, tanks surrounded her home.

Ahed Bseiso CBS

"She would plead with her uncle, like, 'if they were to come in, please leave,'" Bseiso's interpreter said.

Her uncle promised he would stay if the Israeli Defense Forces came in, but they never did. Eventually, she made it to Al-Shifa but conditions there weren't much better.

"Because there was no food and water, her nutrition and all of that was really weakening," Bseiso's interpreter said.

She applied for a visa to leave Gaza and says she was denied several times because of South Africa's International Criminal Court case against Israel.

"Israel thought that if Ahed were to go out and they were to understand her story of what happened to her, that she would be testifying against Israel," Bseiso's interpreter conveyed.

Ahed Bseiso wipes away a tear as she tells her story CBS

Eventually, she got a visa, but it took 18 trips to the border and more violence before she got out. She says the IDF fired at her sanctioned Red Cross van and randomly searched it.

"During several trips where she would try to go there, they would go in and as she was in the car with the Red Crescent drivers, they actually killed the driver," Bseiso's interpreter said.

Tareq Hailat, the head of the Palestine Children's Relief Fund Treatment Abroad program, helped Bseiso and her sister evacuate to Egypt and then helped her fly to the U.S. for medical treatment. Clyborne has been Bseiso's host while she's been receiving treatment at a hospital in South Carolina.

That's when she got connected with Colorado surgeon Dr. Omar Mubarak. He evaluated her injuries from cell phone photos and hooked her up with a state-of-the-art prosthetic that matched her skin tone, which she picked up Saturday after a quick breakfast. Mubarak says he had to do something.

Dr. Omar Mubarak CBS

"My heart's broken and I'm so happy we've got this limb and I hope this helps to improve her life," said Mubarak. "I hope that we can help many other children in the future."

With a new prosthesis, Bseiso took her first steps with her new, natural-looking prosthetic in Colorado; something she never thought she would be able to do when she was suffering in Gaza.

Ahed Bseiso walks out of a Colorado hospital with a walker and a new prosthetic leg after her leg was amputated in Gaza in December. CBS

Her journey started in Gaza but brought her here to Colorado, thanks to the Palestine Children's Relief Fund and Mubarak.

Bseiso considers herself lucky, despite her loss: "What happened to me is minuscule (compared) to what's happening to others and all the other Palestinian children and the families that are in Gaza."

After this story's publication, Clyborne sent a statement to CBS News Colorado saying;

"The pain and suffering endured by Ahed and countless others in Gaza are clear reminders that the crisis in Gaza demands our attention, as well as any crisis occurring worldwide. Standing alongside Ahed throughout her journey has revealed the harsh realities faced by innocent lives caught in conflict. In every tear shed by a mother for her wounded child, regardless of religion or ethnicity, we must recognize the universal truth: the tragedy that is unfolding is a humanitarian crisis that calls for our collective action and compassion."    

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