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Iraqi Baby Heads to United States for Surgery

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2004 – An 8-month-old Iraqi girl has a new lease on life, thanks to U.S. officials on both sides of the Atlantic who cut through mounds of red tape to set up surgery for a life-threatening birth defect.

Fatemah Hassan and her 21-year-old mother, Baday Amir Abdel-Jabar, boarded a military aircraft May 18 en route to Germany. After a brief layover, they'll continue on to Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, for the surgery.

Without surgery, officials feared the baby girl would die from a cavernous hemangioma, an abnormal growth of a blood vessel on the right side of her face and neck.

Fatemah's mother and the baby's father, Khaleel, sought help from U.S. soldiers deployed near their hometown of Mandali, not far from the Iranian border.

Lt. Col. Todd Fredricks, a West Virginia Army National Guard member with the 1st Battalion, 150th Armor, contacted people he knows with Ohio State University at Children's Hospital in Columbus. After seeing Fatemah at the Rough Rider clinic, Fredricks worked with the Iraqi Ministry of Defense in Baghdad and the Coalition Provisional Authority to seek medical attention back in the United States for the baby. West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller's office also provided assistance.

Dr. Gayle Gordillo, a pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeon at the hospital, persuaded the medical facility's board of directors to waive all costs for Fatemah's surgery. Gordillo is slated to remove the birth defect and perform the reconstructive surgery.

(Based on a release from Multinational Force Iraq.)

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Related Sites:
Multinational Force Iraq
Coalition Provisional Authority

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