Reporter's Notebook: For One Syrian Family, Multiple Health Problems

The girl has a congenital defect known as tethered spinal cord that limits the movement of the spinal cord within the spinal column. As she grows it will cause paralysis. At present, she suffers incontinence and leg pain. The defect can be corrected by surgery, which will have to be done outside of Jordan. Image by Mark Hoffman. Jordan. 2016.

ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan – Rishda Hariri sits in the women's emergency room suffering from headaches, diabetes and hypertension, and complaining of poor vision.

She is 87 years old, so her poor health is no surprise. The woman, her wrinkled face wrapped in a head scarf, is a frequent visitor to the clinic run by the Syrian American Medical Society at the Zaatari refugee camp.

It is her son's poor health that is more remarkable.

A few years ago the family fled the suburbs of Daraa in Syria after their house was bombed. Fortunately, they were not inside. They were less lucky in the escape.

"She could not walk. Her legs were hurting all the time," explained Rishda's grandson, Khalil. "It was my uncle (her son) who carried her. He carried her on his back about four kilometers.

"Right after that, he has heart surgery."

The son who carried Rishda, Uncle Taha Hariri, is only 50 and now a patient himself.

"His stomach is swollen. His legs are swollen. It's because of his heart," Khalil explained. "His heart muscles are only working at about 35 percent."