Shamma loves the feeling of sand between her toes. She celebrated her 10th birthday by running and swimming at the seashore. But Shamma couldn’t always run and play.


She was born in the United Arab Emirates with a birth defect that restricted her mobility for much of her early childhood. Her condition didn’t improve much, even after several surgeries to correct bilateral recurrent club foot. But Shamma’s father, Yousif, says his daughter has always has been a fighter. Her strength and optimism inspired him to search out the best care.


They traveled to Washington, D.C., in 2014 to meet with pediatric orthopedic specialists at Children’s National Hospital who made a diagnosis that went beyond her club foot. Shamma had arthrogryposis, a genetic condition that causes joint deformities. She underwent a series of transformative and innovative surgeries, followed by extensive physical therapy.


“As parents, we want to see our children happy all the time and we are thinking about the future,” Yousif says. “When we came here, I was so happy with how the doctors and staff treated us and took care of Shamma. We felt like we were in our country.”


These days, Shamma enjoys life like most kids her age. She runs and bikes and is growing up stronger. Her care at Children’s National will continue through adolescence. She says she hopes to be a nurse or a doctor one day. Her father says that thanks to the care she has received, “nothing is impossible.”

A young patient at Children's National Hospital.

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A young patient at Children's National Hospital.