When Hebah Abdullah, now 38, first visited Johns Hopkins in 2015, the swelling, stiffness and joint pain from rheumatoid arthritis had her confined to a wheelchair.

As the inflammatory disorder progressed, she couldn’t do chores around the house or even provide care for her children—a boy, now 9 years old, and a daughter, 6.

The Kuwaiti embassy agreed to let her seek treatment at Johns Hopkins. Abdullah feels like a different woman now.

She has had nine surgeries—including replacements of hips, wrists and shoulders—and extensive rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins. She spent time at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Sibley Memorial Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, in Washington, DC.

Seeking care in the United States was unnerving at first. Abdullah had moved here with her husband and children, but the pain made her so weak she couldn’t even hold a cup of water. The situation was overwhelming.

She found relief from Yamina Ennaciri, her international care coordinator at Johns Hopkins.

“Her support helped me,” Abdullah says, clutching Ennaciri’s arm for emphasis. “She told me, ‘You came to the right hospital.’ She didn’t give up on me—she was with me step by step, even during my surgeries. She made me believe there is hope.”

Ennaciri coordinated Abdullah’s care—scheduling appointments, escorting her and interpreting throughout her time at Johns Hopkins. Recently, Ennaciri transferred to Sibley to manage international patient care. Another care coordinator, Marina Paul, stepped in to help Abdullah.

The results of her care have been life changing, Abdullah says. Now, she plays with her children and cares for them the way she wants to—she even carries them.

Abdullah recommends Johns Hopkins to everyone at home.

“When I came here, I thought I was done,” she says. “Thank you so much, Johns Hopkins, Yamina and Marina.”

This post highlights content from JHI’s FY17-FY18 Impact Report, Realizing the Mission. Read the full report and check out this video to learn more about our transformational work in international collaborative health from the last two fiscal years.

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