University gives hope to girl with disabilities after father’s encouragement

A three-year-old girl with disabilities, who made it to the headlines on May 4 for being taught how to walk with a home-made mechanism by her father, has been promised to be treated by the Akdeniz University Hospital in the southern province of Antalya.

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Özge and her father, Ali İhsan Yıldırm, have been scheduled an appointment with Prof. Dr. Ömer Özkan, a renowned surgeon at the hospital, on May 8 to talk about the possibility of a leg transplant, after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reportedly called the family and promised them “moral and material support.”

Saying that the hospital previously performed a double arm transplant surgery, Yıldırm told reporters that Özkan could conduct a successful operation on Özge.

“Ömer Özkan is a worldwide known doctor. He has carried out many important transplant surgeries. His successes have made us proud. Lucky us if he could also be a hope for us,” Yıldırım said.

The father said a part of Özge’s left leg was amputated when she was only 13 days old due to complications that stemmed from an alleged protein deficiency.

Although Özge was required to attend a physiotherapy course periodically after to help with her walking, the family could not afford to send her to one.

Yıldırım, an impoverished aluminum worker, then resorted to his own creative skills and developed a makeshift aluminum mechanism at home worth only 150 Turkish Liras ($42).

He then mounted the aluminum contraption to the ceiling, to which Özge could hold onto while learning to walk.

Thanks to this home-made mechanism, Özge first learned to stand on her feet and then walk. The little girl can now even walk or run without utilizing this aluminum contraption from the ceiling, the father said.

Yıldırım filed a criminal complaint against the private hospital that amputated Özge’s leg three years ago. He said the hospital had told them Özge’s protein C deficiency required a surgery, although subsequent analysis revealed there was no such illness.

“We will continue our legal struggle. All we want is for those responsible to be punished,” he said.

Hakan Tütüncü, the mayor of the Kepez district in Antalya, also visited the Yıldırım family after hearing about Özge.

It was during Tütüncü’s visit that Erdoğan requested to speak with Yıldırım on the phone.

Yıldırım mentioned the legal charges he filed against the hospital over the phone, with Erdoğan responding that Tütüncü was a qualified lawyer and would take action against those responsible.

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