Hussein, from Iraq, returns to the United States for surgery and prosthetics

by host mom Debra Karam


Hussein was hospitalized in Baghdad.  Iraqi doctors tried to do whatever they could, taking skin grafts from his leg to cover facial and eye wounds, and when that did not work, a piece of Hussein's scalp was cut and repositioned to cover open wounds on his forehead.  When his left hand became gangrenous, the only choice was to amputate it at the forearm.  Although doctors told the family there was no hope, Hussein made a miraculous life-saving recovery that left him blind and disabled.


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Through contacts with the American military and a Middle Eastern children's charity, Hussein was introduced to Healing the Children, Arizona Chapter.  Over the next 17 months, Hussein underwent facial reconstruction, and three eye procedures, two surgeries to the left eye including corneal transplant, lensectomy and removal of foreign bodies, and an oculoplastic surgery to the right eye, to create a pouch that would contain his new prosthetic eye.

When Hussein arrived in November 2005, he said, "The only thing I have in my heart is to see." Thanks to help from Phoenix Children's Hospital and local medical providers, Drs. Brendan Cassidy, Jung Dao, Jeffrey Epstein, J. Shepard Bryan,  Davinda Singh, Adrain Arya, Harold Magelnick, Lynne Noonan, Valley Anesthesia, and Mounib Shaaban, as well as eye and limb orthotists John Hadlock and Joseph Pongratz, Donor Network and countless others, Hussein's dream became a reality.  For the first time since his injury, Hussein was able to see traffic light changes from red to green from a distance, and then gained a wider area of vision of about 10 feet peripherally.  For the first time in his life, Hussein ate pizza, played video games, and rode a bike again.


Hussein recently returned to Phoenix, Arizona in October, 2010 for additional plastic surgery, eye evaluations, and prosthetic replacements.  Hussein met up with his medical providers for ongoing care, and also made new friends at Shriner's Hospital in Los Angeles, California, Healing the Children's partner in our mutual effort to take Hussein through the next steps in his recovery process.