Update: Andrew Dittmar's family learned this week that his brain tumor is cancerous. He has stage 3 glioma. A fund has been established for the family at http://www.gofundme.com/6z9q4s. The Dittmars will have many expenses including the cost of travel from their home in Marshall, Mo., to Overland Park, Kan., where Andrew will have radiation therapy. Watch FOX 4 Meryl Lin McKean's story in the player above in which Andrew and his mother were featured.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City doctor needed to go to the Middle East and stay there indefinitely, but the 6,600 miles hasn't stopped him from seeing his patients.
A nurse sits with a young patient and his parents in an exam room at Children's Mercy Hospital. Nothing seems out of the ordinary until you see the screen and realize a 'doc in the box' is doing the exam. Then you find out Dr. Husam Kayyali is in Saudia Arabia. He's seeing Andrew Dittmar, age 5, via secure satellite.
For Dr. Kayyali, this connection was born of war. The Children's Mercy neurologist went to Syria in May to get his parents out of the country where tens of thousands have died in the civil war and millions have been displaced.
"There is no safe place in the entire country," said Dr. Kayyali.
The doctor and his parents made it to Saudi Arabia where they remain until it becomes clearer whether his parents can return to Syria. Since last fall, Dr. Kayyali has held a clinic weekly via telemedicine. Andrew's parents were skeptical when they learned the doc wouldn't be in the exam room or even the same country.
"I was like seriously -- with a doctor -- I mean this is kinda serious," said Michelle Dittmar, Andrew's mother.
You see, Andrew has a brain tumor. He had surgery two weeks ago. Dr. Kayyali is providing the before and after care.
"What we saw, we were very impressed with. It was like he was right there in the room with us," said Dittmar.
Dr. Kayyali says it's the same for him.
"We are able to deliver the same good quality of care," said the doctor.
He and the family say it seems so normal even though circumstances in their lives are far from normal.