A TEENAGER hasn’t been able to eat for over ten years after her intestines were ripped out of her body during a horrific swimming pool accident.
Salma Bashir still chews food at home so she can taste her mum’ cooking, but she has to spit it back out into a plastic bag.
While on holiday with her family in Egypt aged just five, Salma went to play in the baby pool.
Her pregnant mum was watching her older brother in the adult pool.
Salma ended up accidentally sitting on the pool’s suction valve and the force was so strong that it ripped her small intestines from her body before anyone had a chance to pull her away.
Salma recalls: “I was just swimming all of a sudden, I just sat on it by accident. I know the lifeguard tried to pull me out and he couldn’t because the suction was so much.
“My dad tried to pull me out. And then I know a couple of people finally were able to get me out, and when I was taken out, it was so traumatic.”
As she was wearing a red swimming costume, Salma’s mum Dena thought that her daughter’s small intestines were just torn swimsuit.
“I found someone carrying her and all her intestines came out from her body, I couldn’t believe that it was intestine I thought at the beginning it was her swimming suit,” she says.
Given just weeks to live, Salma’s family travelled to Pennsylvania for life-saving surgery.
After fundraising $300,000 (£236,000) and waiting for a year and a half, Salma was also given a transplant.
But her body rejected the small intestine transplant and after six months, it had to be removed along with her large intestines and gall bladder.
Her stomach is still an open wound which needs dressing every day.
She said: “My stomach was open so bad, we could literally see my insides. It’s healing slowly. But now it’s not getting healed anymore. It’s filled with tissue, so thankfully you can’t really see insides or anything, but it’s leaking 24/seven.”
Because of that, she is homeschooled and needs a wheelchair to get around.
And it’s rare that she goes a month without needing to be rushed to A&E.
Every hospital visit costs a lot, and because Salma’s family are only in the USA on a visitor’s visa due to her medical condition, she can’t get medical insurance.
Her mum, a qualified doctor in her own country, also isn’t allowed to work in America.
Docs have warned the family that if Salma needs another transplant, she’d have to have five organs replaced: small intestines, large intestines, liver, stomach and pancreas.
A five-organ transplant costs around $3 million (£2.4 million).
But that’s not stopping the teen from trying to live life as fully as possible.
She has to swear a total parental nutrition bag (TPN) which is hooked up to her body and gives her all the necessary nutrients.
“It’s basically a bag full of fluids with all the nutrition you need, such as calcium, sodium, glucose, all the vitamins and everything you need,” she explains.
“I’m hooked up to that for 20 hours a day. When it first gets hooked up, it’s about 15 to 20 pounds.
“I’m about four foot three, so I’m very small. The reason I don’t absorb food is because I don’t have the intestines at all. So there’s nowhere for it to go if I eat anything.”
She’s set up a GoFundMe page which has already raised thousands.
And Salma also has a makeup tutorial Facebook account called “Slay with Salma”, which has attracted over 56,000 followers.
“I always look forward to that part of the day whenever I do my makeup,” Salma explains.
“I mean, I’m always in bed and it takes me so much energy to get out of bed and actually even sit in a chair because of my stomach.
“But when I do it, I forget about that. That’s why I love it.”
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“This is sort of my free time – you don’t want to think about medical, I just want to focus on something that makes me happy.”
Mum Dena says: “She still smiles, she’s still (a) fighter, she still challenges with her situation. She’s doing very good things with her condition.”
You can donate to Salma’s GoFundMe page here.
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