Skip to comments.Soldiers help Iraqi boy get surgery
Posted on 08/09/2007 5:34:10 PM PDT by SandRat
BAGHDAD For a child in Hollandia, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team and Coalition forces have become the answer to his familys prayers.
Sitting in the local health clinic with his father on a warm May morning, Ahaip Najim had no idea that hope would come walking through the door.
That morning, members of the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion and 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, were assessing the towns needs.
They discovered him in the health clinic there and just gathered around him, said Capt. Jimmy Hathaway, Headquarters Troop, 3-1 Cav. commander, out of Fort Benning, Ga. They decided right there that they were going to do everything in their power to help him.
At birth, Ahaip had an obstructed bowel that required emergency surgery. The surgery left the childs intestines outside his body. The doctors plan was to reintroduce the intestines back into the body in six to eight years. However, according to a 97th Civil Affairs medic, from Fort Bragg, N.C., that option would leave the child at risk of infection or rupture.
Cavalry and civil affairs Soldiers began to call around and use their contacts throughout the Army to find help for the child.
Finally, we were put in contact with the hospital in An Najaf, Iraq, Hathaway said. They agreed to help us. It was a really good situation.
The next stumbling block was finding a way to transport the child and his father to al Sadr Hospital. Pieces started falling into place after Gen. David H. Petraeus, Multi-National Force-Iraq commander, visited Forward Operating Base Hammer.
We briefed Gen. Petraeus about the situation, Hathaway said. He asked if there was anything we needed. He said this is exactly the type of thing we needed to be doing and volunteered his own aircraft. The aircraft was provided by Multi-National Division-Center but General Petraeus offer really said a lot about how important this mission had become to everyone.
The 3rd HBCT used a convoy to pick up Ahaip and his father and brought them to FOB Hammer. From Hammer, the pair traveled to al Sadr Hospital by helicopter.
We had two Black Hawks, two Apaches and a MEDEVAC (medical evacuation) waiting for us when we pulled up, Hathaway said. The support we received was phenomenal.
The flight was set, but the young patient wasnt so sure.
He was scared at first, Hathaway said. We had to stop and refuel, and he seemed to relax after that. He just needed some time to get used to it. He seemed to be having a good time near the end.
The child was expected to be at al Sadr Hospital for 10 to 14 days. Before attempting the surgery, doctors there wanted to run diagnostic tests. The surgery initially was expected to take place on June 4, but had to be pushed back due to the Ahaips anemic condition. The first of two surgeries was finally performed June 17.
The first surgery went well, Hathaway said. The child is recovering. He currently is using a colostomy bag, but the second planned surgery will hopefully eliminate the need for that and let him lead a normal life.
Ahaips father has been able to remain with him throughout his hospital stay.
The hospital has been very supportive, Hathaway said. They have given him a place to stay, given him meals and even washed his clothes. They have really done a great job helping this family out.
The help Soldiers extended to the boy and his family has improved the Coalitions relationship with the town of Hollandia.
They are very pro-Coalition, Hathaway said. They were very receptive and happy that we have helped. They all saw the coverage of this on Iraqi television and saw that we were trying to help. One man told me, You did what you said you were going to do. Thank you. That means a lot. We go into the town now and people come out to see us. They laugh and joke with us. We feel very welcome there.
Ahaip and his father exchange a hopeful glance on a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter June 2 at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq. Soldiers from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, worked with the Ministry of Health to coordinate for the life-changing surgery and provided transportation to al Sadr hospital in Najaf where the first of two surgeries was conducted. Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiller, Joint Combat Camera Center.
What a sweet little face! God Bless our guys!
Hey MSM...are these the evil child-killing soldiers you paint our military to be? Take a look at the REAL news for a change instead of making up your own.
God bless the troops for what they have done for this boy.