The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Injured face of Iraq recovers

Kuwait, April 20: The plastic surgeon treating Ali Ismael Abbas, the 12-year-old Iraqi boy horrifically injured when an American missile struck his Baghdad home, believes he will eventually make a full recovery from his burns.

There had been fears that Ali, who suffered more than 35 per cent burns and had both arms amputated, would die from septicaemia, but Dr Imad Najada said that he was out of immediate danger.

Dr Najada, who has been a plastic surgeon since 1991, trained in Australia and Germany. “I have treated many cases like Ali’s,” he said. “Ali had contracted septicaemia and we had to isolate the organism so that we could treat it with the correct antibiotics. We have now done that and so he is out of danger but he is still in an intensive care unit.” Describing Ali as the “bravest little boy I have ever met,” Dr Najada added that it would take months, if not years, for him to recover from the psychological trauma of his injuries and the deaths of his parents and 16 members of his family.

Medical staff at the Ibn Sina Hospital in Kuwait, where Ali arrived on Wednesday after being evacuated from Baghdad, are now planning further treatment for him. He will remain in intensive care for at least a month and will have to undergo two or more sessions of skin-grafting before moving to an outside ward.

Later Ali may travel overseas for further treatment. Specialist units in a number of countries have offered to fit him with prosthetic limbs. “France, Britain and the USA have all said they want to help but they will have to demonstrate to us that they are committed to his long-term well-being,” said Dr Najada.

"Ali will need his prosthetic arms changed every few months until he reaches puberty. He will need constant treatment. The country which wants to help him needs to be committed to this long-term treatment and that will mean Ali living in that country.

"Once we are satisfied by those conditions, we will discuss the matter with Ali and his uncle."

Dr Najada said he had been amazed by the worldwide response to Ali's plight. The hospital has received thousands of get-well cards from France, Germany, England, Australia, America and the Arab world.

Families in Kuwait have offered to adopt Ali once he is fit enough to leave the hospital.

"Everybody seems to be concerned about Ali," said Dr Najada. "The staff at the hospital have given him a video recorder, CD player and a TV set and he is very happy with that. We have had lots of cards from people but nothing from Mr Blair or Mr Bush. Some people want to adopt him but he has his uncle, Mohammed al-Sultani, who looks after him."

Prior to Ali's arrival at the hospital, doctors in Baghdad said it would have been better if he had died because of the extent of his injuries.

Dr Najada said: "We have performed a number of skin-graft operations on Ali in which we removed the dead skin. We replaced it with skin from his back and thighs. This was very painful for Ali, but he is very strong.

"Physical injuries are often easier to repair than psychological problems. Ali has suffered a terrible emotional trauma and he will need help to recover from that as well."

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