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Armless Boy Becomes Symbol Of War

Ali Ismali, 12, receives treatment at a Saddam City Hos pital in Saddam City, a district of Baghdad, Iraq in this April 12, 2003 photo. A hospital in Kuwait City on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 received the boy who lost both his arms in a bombing and became a symbol of Iraqi war suffering. He was carried off an ambulance on a stretcher after being airlifted from Baghdad and taken into Kuwait City's Saud A. Albabtain Center for Burns and Plastic Surgery.
AP
Kuwaiti doctors performed plastic surgery Wednesday on a 12-year-old boy who suffered severe burns and lost both his arms during the U.S. bombardment of Baghdad, becoming a symbol of Iraqi suffering during the war.

Ali Ismaeel Abbas moaned in pain and begged his nurses for water after the 75-minute operation in which doctors scraped away infected and dead tissue and replaced it with temporary grafts of skin from a donor.

"Pain. I'm in pain," the boy cried, wrapped from his neck down in dressings. Pushing aside an oxygen mask with his teeth and tongue so he could be heard, he begged: "Water. Water."

Ali was given painkillers and sips of water. Doctors said the temporary grafts could be replaced permanently with skin from the boy's back and buttocks next Monday.

"His prognosis is good," said Dr. Imad Najada, the plastic surgeon who performed the operation at the Saud A. Albabtain Center for Burns and Plastic Surgery. "About 35 percent of his body is burned. We have treated patients with up to 85 and 90 percent with good survival."

Ali was home in Baghdad with his family one night when a bomb blew apart
his life, killing his pregnant mother, his father, brother and aunt. Ten family members in all, were killed. Ali lost both his arms and his torso was
badly burned. He is now in the hands of strangers who will try to give
him his life back.

CBS News reports one reporter heard Ali ask, "Can you help me get my arms back? Do you think the doctors can give me another pair of hands?"

Ali's sufferings have attracted worldwide attention.

Accompanied by an uncle, he was flown to Kuwait by U.S. military aircraft early Wednesday. Najada said the boy was burned primarily on his abdomen, from his upper chest to his scrotum.

The boy looked tense and frightened when he was taken on an ambulance gurney through a horde of journalists upon arrival. He screamed when he was carried into an elevator to an intensive-care treatment room for his initial examination.

He continued screaming when doctors lifted his T-shirt to examine his burns, and again when doctors put intravenous needles into what was left of his arms.

Dr. Ahmed al-Shatti, spokesman for Kuwait's Ministry of Health, described the procedures as "very good news," saying the surgeons had expected to work much longer to find live skin.

The boy was smiling when Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, Kuwait's deputy prime minister and foreign minister, visited him and several other Iraqi children being treated at the hospital.

Sabah presented Ali with flowers and told him not to fear anything because he was among family, al-Shatti said.

Recovery from such severe burns often takes a year and the cost runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Several charities worldwide have offered to help pay for the treatment and prostheses.