U.S. Special Forces Aid Dying Afghan Boy
By Army Sgt. Lynne Steely
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Jun. 17, 2008 Jaweed Noor said he was tired but appeared to be in good spirits when he arrived at Craig Joint Theater Hospital here June 9.
Jaweed Noor, a 10-year-old Afghan boy, escorted by his father, Ahmad, and U.S. Special Forces soldiers, prepares to board an aircraft and fly home. Jaweed was diagnosed with terminal cancer and received treatment at a military hospital on Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The 10-year-old Afghan boy, escorted by his father, Ahmad, and a U.S. Special Forces soldier, was flown to the facility for tests after Afghan and coalition forces medics diagnosed a tumor on his upper arm.
The ordeal began several months ago. Ahmad sold much of his land, seeking the help of numerous physicians and travelling as far as Pakistan for help. Ahmad’s every effort was denied.
“No one could help him,” Ahmad said of his son. When Ahmad heard about the coalition clinic, he immediately sought help there. The doctors at the Bagram facility weren’t sure if they could help Jaweed, but they were more than willing to try.
Unfortunately, just as clinic medics had suspected, U.S. doctors diagnosed Jaweed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare and aggressive cancer most commonly found in young males between the ages of 10 and 20.
Further tests revealed that Jaweed’s cancer had aggressively invaded his chest cavity, and his prognosis was grim.
“He has about three to four months left,” said Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Andrew Landers, who recently became involved with the case and who coordinated the boy’s movement to Bagram.
Upon learning of Jaweed’s tragic fate, Special Forces soldiers collected donations and presented him with a portable DVD player, because Jaweed said that he loves to watch movies.
“He didn’t talk or eat much when he first arrived,” said one soldier, “but he has begun to open up to us.”
When it was time for Jaweed to return home, his new American friends sent him off with an elaborate fanfare. Several events were held in Jaweed’s honor, including a special showing of his favorite American movie.
Soldiers collected other donations for the family, including clothes, food and movies, and presented them prior to his departure. “We want to make him as happy as possible throughout his last days,” Landers said.
Jaweed was flown aboard a U.S. aircraft, along with his new gifts, to spend his final days with his family.
“We don’t understand Americans,” Ahmad said before departing. “We have yet to understand how compassionate Americans are -- how they want to help the Afghan people. When I go back, I’m sure to call my village together and tell them how they are here to help and [that] we should openly embrace them.”
Coalition medics will remain in contact with Jaweed and his family and continue to care for him throughout his ordeal.
(Army Sgt. Lynne Steely serves with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Public Affairs Office.)