Stories about: International

Focused on Faysal: From Saudi Arabia to Boston for reconnection surgery

reconnection surgery for volvulus

It began as a fun, relaxing trip. In 2016, the Alwosaifers were visiting Massachusetts from their home country of Saudi Arabia. It should have been an idyllic summer vacation — but then their youngest child, Faysal, got sick. What started as a stomachache soon worsened until the 12-year-old collapsed with severe abdominal pain.

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“The presence of an interpreter brings comfort to a family.”


(Katherine C. Cohen/Boston Children’s Hospital)

Lucía González

Spanish Interpreter Supervisor

open-quoteI’ve been a Spanish interpreter here for 22 years. We have a fantastic team of interpreters. Everybody is professional, friendly, hard-working and so committed to the patients. We are more than just people who can understand two languages. We have to know the medical terminology as well as the culture of the patient and the family involved.

When I interpret, it’s important for me to use the same intonation as either the provider or the family so I can provide the most faithful message possible. I have to have some acting skills in a way, which is one of the most fun and challenging aspects of the job.

We’re in outpatient exam rooms, inpatient units and pre-op and post-op procedure rooms. We are there for diagnoses, follow-up appointments and team meetings. And sometimes we get outside calls transferred from the main number. There was once a family from Puerto Rico that called in and I answered the call. The mother was pregnant with conjoined twins and had been given a very bad prognosis in Puerto Rico. I helped them connect with a surgeon who ended up being able to separate the babies at birth and allow one to survive.

The work is very satisfying because I feel like I help all parties involved communicate important information. Families feel so grateful that there’s someone here who speaks their language. Just the presence of an interpreter brings comfort to a family.close-quote


care-team-logoCaring for patients is a true team effort. Care Team highlights the dedication of the people throughout Boston Children’s who do their part to comfort and support patient families each and every day.

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From Bahrain to Boston for very early onset IBD care

20150723_GassenIBDVEO-16[1]During a recent visit to Boston Children’s Hospital, three-year-old Gassen Boabed quietly entered the waiting room of the hospital’s Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center.

With Mom and big brother in tow, the tiny toddler, boasting a pretty pink headband and nail polish to match, sat at a child-sized table, picked up crayons and started coloring. She was at ease, and her surroundings were familiar.

For the past year and a half, Gassen, a native of Bahrain, a small island country east of Saudi Arabia, has been receiving treatment at Boston Children’s for a rare and debilitating condition called very early onset (VEO) inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

The condition, which affects infants and children under 5, causes severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea, and it slows growth. The cause(s) of VEO-IBD remain unknown but likely include a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

“Boston Children’s has been taking very good care of Gassen and us as well,” says Gassen’s mother Manal, with the assistance of an interpreter from the hospital’s Interpreter Services Department. “The way they have been dealing with her case has been excellent.”

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