Miracle: Mohamed Qasim survives totally severed windpipe

By Sheena Amos

ABU DHABI 28 November 2018: Surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi have performed a first-of-its-kind emergency operation to repair a totally severed windpipe, saving the patient’s life.

Mohamed Qasim, a motorcycle delivery driver, was rushed to hospital after a traffic accident involving a bus. He suffered severe injuries including a total rupture of his windpipe.

Once diagnosed, he was transferred to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, which has the expertise and specialist facilities to perform the life-saving surgery, said Wam.

“This was a first-of-its-kind operation. When we looked at the CT scan before the surgery, we could see a large section of the windpipe was completely gone, and the full extent of the damage only became apparent during the surgery. Given Mohamed’s injuries, we had to develop a new approach to bridge the gap while he was in the operating room,” explained Dr. Redha Souilamas, Chair of Thoracic Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, who led the operation.

“Usually, you have to perform these types of surgeries within 24 to 48 hours to repair the damage, but in Mohamed’s case four days had passed, heightening the urgency,” he added.

Pioneering Step

The six-hour surgery saw the surgical team develop a novel approach to bridging the gap in Mohamed’s windpipe. The complex procedure required doctors to connect Mohamed to an artificial lung machine before they could safely operate on his airway. During the operation, surgeons repaired Mohamed’s airway by using a metal stent to bridge the gap caused by the accident and reconnect his windpipe, a technique never attempted before.

Conventional windpipe repair techniques used for more minor injuries or non-emergency surgeries to remove tumors require significant advance planning. Traditionally, surgeons remove a damaged or diseased section of the windpipe and bridge the gap by transplanting a section from a deceased donor, something that was not possible in an emergency case like Mohamed’s.

“I’ve never seen a case like Mohamed’s where a patient with a total rupture of the windpipe continues to breathe on their own for so long. He was in a critical situation with very little time remaining to save his life. Luckily, we have a highly specialised and experienced team on hand to deal with such complex cases,” said Dr. Souilamas.


Following his operation, Mohamed was moved to the intensive care unit where he remained on an artificial lung machine. He has subsequently recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital, with on-going support from specialists.

“I am happy to be alive and very grateful to Dr. Redha and the whole team at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi for saving my life. I am amazed at all the help the hospital and staff continue to offer me as I recover. I feel there is no other hospital like this one,” said Mohamed Qasim.

Dubai Gazette