NEWS
02/18/2016 10:00 EST | Updated 02/18/2017 00:12 EST

Refugee injured in Baghdad bomb blast sits on B.C. wait list

A recently arrived refugee in B.C. says she's been on a wait list to see a medical specialist since November, living with chronic pain due to injuries from a bomb blast in Iraq.

Farrah Ali had already had 11 surgeries prior to arriving in Canada and believes she may need more to heal her arm and face.

"On a daily basis, I'm in severe pain, I feel my bones, all of it. Aches and pains. My neck and shoulders, I still have one shred [of shrapnel] in my jaw," she said.

'I felt my life turned upside down'

In April of 2014, Farrah Ali took her young son out for ice cream at a local shop in their hometown of Baghdad, Iraq. 

As the family sat and ate, a car bomb exploded outside the store, leaving Ali with severe injuries to her face and arm.

"At that moment, I felt my life turned upside down — I felt [like] I am dying," Ali told a translator. 

Ali had no control over one arm because that shoulder was completely torn apart by the impact of the bomb blast.

Ali required multiple surgeries to insert metal plates into her jaw, and endured skin and bone grafts for the injuries to her arm.

For nearly two years, she's been in chronic pain, unable to use the injured arm. 

The family arrived in B.C. in November of 2014 as government-assisted refugees.

Like all refugees, their first point of contact with the health care system was the Bridge medical clinic — a specialized health care centre in East Vancouver that helps refugees until they can find a family doctor in their new community.

"The family doctor said he will refer me to the specialist, but the specialist is so busy, up til now, no one called," said Ali.

"I'm supposed to start physiotherapy right away [too] but nothing happened," she told a translator.

'They're going to be treated like any other Canadian'

Doctor Mei Ling Wiedmeyer at the Bridge medical clinic said while she cannot comment specifically on Ali's case, many refugees come into the clinic not knowing how the process works, and some expect they're going to get treatment right away.

"They're not used to the medical system here and some of them don't understand that once they arrive, they're going to be treated like any other Canadian," said Wiedmeyer.  

"Everybody who comes here, especially in this group, is a permanent resident. So they actually go into the system the same way any B.C. resident would — there's not special treatment one way or the other."

After CBC News contacted Vancouver Coastal Health about this story, Farrah said she received a phone call stating that a health care provider would be visiting the family on Friday.