Almost three months after surviving a car crash that killed four of his relatives, a Sydney boy has left Westmead Children's Hospital with his family by his side.
The family of Charbel Kassas, 11, has rejoiced after he returned home this week after 80 days in hospital, much of that time he spent unconscious.
He was hospitalised in a coma after being struck by a vehicle while walking along a footpath towards an icecream shop with six other youngsters in the Sydney suburb of Oatlands in February.
The incident claimed the lives of Abdallah siblings Antony, Angelina and Sienna along with their cousin Veronique Sakr.
A criminal investigation is ongoing in relation to the incident.
The incident resulted in an outpouring of emotion within Australia's Maronite community and the wider country.
Charbel’s mother Rania Kassas is the sister of Leila Abdallah who lost three of her children in the tragedy.
Ms Kassas tells SBS Arabic24 the months following the incident have been "unbelievably painful" but she believes it’s a “miracle” just to be able to hold her son.
“Charbel left the hospital with a miracle, you can say that what happened to us was a miracle,” she says.
“It was a really testing time, because of what happened to us. We lost my nieces and nephews and Veronique, and my boy was in the hospital. Things were on top of each other and It was a very tough time.”
Ms Kassas says that despite living with so much uncertainty, she never doubted her son would survive.
“We had faith, and we were sure that Charbel will recover.
“We have gone through very tough times, three months of constantly going to the hospital. He wasn’t talking or anything, he wasn’t hearing us or moving because his brain was still in a coma.”
It was during this time that doctors advised the family about the possible outcomes should he wake from the coma.
“Doctors met us and said he still has six months at least in the hospital, and he might not be able to talk again and will need a wheelchair to move. They said he won’t go back to normal,” she says.
“I told them that he will, we have an old man saint [in Lebanon] called Mar Charbel and he will help us, and everyone is praying for us, and for sure god won’t let us down.”
The family’s prayers were answered when the youngster began moving in bed, and eventually woke from the coma.
“Suddenly he opened his eyes and said, 'mum'. I looked and kneeled beside him and said, 'what did you say?', he replied, 'mum I love you',” Ms Kassas says.
“We started crying, all of us, this is the word we have been waiting for two and a half months.”
As he regained consciousness, the family didn’t know how to break the news of the tragedy that had occurred.
“He took the IPad and wrote my brother in law's name, Danny Abdallah, because he used to play boxing [with him] and he wanted to see him, but the results came up all about Oatlands crash.
“He looked at me and asked how they died, I told him, you were with them. Until now he doesn’t clearly remember if he was with them, or he was in Lebanon.”
Despite the tragic incident, Ms Kassas says she doesn’t hold any resentment towards the driver.
“My son went to the hospital, but with god’s grace he left it, and he is still in front of my eyes, I don’t have the right to hate the driver.
“Meanwhile, my sister lost three kids and she forgave him, how can I not? Even for her, what I went through is, so little compared to what she went through.”
Charbel faces a tough road ahead, with two more years of physiotherapy until he is fully recovered.
In total, he spent 80 days in the hospital, but now back at home, his mother wants to thank everyone who showed solidarity for the family.
“Our happiness with Charbel's return is bigger than the world, just one word from him is enough to thank god. We don’t feel any burden, we thank god and everyone who prayed for him.
“I want to thank everyone because what they did made us forever in debt, If it wasn’t for these prayers, we wouldn’t have been in this stage.
“Thousands have prayed for us, and this prayers for sure reached Charbel and my sister.”