Sick Kosovar boy flies into UK for treatment

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The Independent Online

A desperately-ill two-year-old Kosovar boy arrived in Scotland tonight for a potentially life-saving operation.

Visar Zymberi, accompanied by his deaf-mute mother Sadije, left their home in Kosovo at 5am and finally touched down at Aberdeen Airport shortly after 9.30pm.

He suffers from a congenital oesophageal condition which means he can only swallow liquids.

Since birth he has been surviving on milk from his mother, who cannot hear or speak, and he will die if he does not receive appropriate medical treatment.

Administrative director of Aberdeen charity No Frontiers Bob Milne, who arranged the boy's journey to Scotland, said: "They are very, very tired and we are taking them to an address we have organised for them in the city.

"We'll take them to the hospital tomorrow to see what can be done for Visar."

The youngster was operated on three times during the first two months of his life, but his fourth operation was abandoned after the outbreak of war in the Balkan region.

Visar, who lost his father and grandfather during the fighting, comes from the mountain village of Prelofc in the Drenica Valley, which was one of the worst hit regions during the war.

Scottish charity workers discovered his plight at the end of last year during door-to-door visits in the area and No Frontiers, with the assistance of other members of the Scottish Charities Kosovo Appeal team, helped bring him to the UK.

A Territorial Army medical team from Aberdeen has carried out an in-field assessment of Visar's condition and reported back to medical experts inScotland.

Visar is due to be assessed by staff at Aberdeen Royal Children's Hospital who will decide how and where his needs can best be met.

Mr Milne said Visar's prospects were good if he received treatment, but he would die without help.

"This operation that we are assuming he needs is not some fantastic unheard-of operation.

"I wouldn't go so far as to say it is routine but the prognosis for the future is wonderful if he receives medical treatment of some sort or another."

He said the youngster had his first three operations in Belgrade, but in the current political and military climate it was almost impossible for his mother, an ethnic Kosovar Albanian, to take him back there.

He said: "You may as well go and have a party on the moon -it would be just as easy. If ever there was an innocent victim of war he is it."

Mr Milne said in Visar's area, about 95% of the houses had been damaged or destroyed in the war, and the family was currently living in a converted cow shed.

The United Nations has issued special passports to replace documents destroyed when their house was burned down.

Visar was accompanied by his mother and uncle, Nexhmedin, as well as interpreters and charity workers. The group flew from Skopje, Macedonia, via London Heathrow.

An appeal launched by No Frontiers in February to cover the expenses involved has already raise £6,300, but more is still needed.