Armless Iraqi Boy's Operation Postponed

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.
Doctors treating a 12-year old Iraqi boy who lost his arms and was severely burned in the bombing of Baghdad postponed a skin-graft operation on him Monday but said his condition was improving.

Ali Ismaeel Abbas was home in Baghdad with his family one night when a missile blew apart his life, killing his pregnant mother, his father, brother and aunt. Ten family members in all, were killed.

He was sent to the Saud A. Albabtain Center for Burns and Plastic Surgery on Wednesday and received temporary skin grafts.

Those were to have been replaced by a permanent skin-graft operation, but that was postponed until later in the week because "we are not happy with the burn area," surgeon Imad Najada said.

However, he said Ali's general condition was much better and he was eating well. The boy also is receiving psychological care and may start being tutored in the hospital, the surgeon said.

Doctors want to be sure the boy's burned skin will be ready for the graft because "he has a limited donor area," Najada said. Ali was burned primarily from his upper chest to his groin, about 35 percent of his body area.

His plight received extensive news coverage worldwide, and several charities around the world have offered to help pay for the boy's treatment and prostheses.

Recovery from such severe burns often takes a year and the cost runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Kuwait is paying for the treatment, and the state hospital was in contact with medical centers abroad to locate prostheses for his lost arms, the doctor said.

Najada said New York's Global Medical Relief Foundation was "very interested in receiving him," but no decision has been made yet. Because of his young age, the prostheses will have to be changed every year, he said.