Iraqi child recovers following free surgery
August 5, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq-Sleeping soundly on top of her stuffed animals, 18-month-old Rawaa Saod Najiem is the picture of innocence, resting in a hospital bed.
Rawaa underwent reconstructive surgery in the Azadi Hospital in Kirkuk, Iraq, July 20 to repair an injury to her head, which had left her vulnerable to infection.
U.S. Soldiers first discovered Rawaa's injury during an assessment of her village July 6.
"We first encountered Rawaa while we were doing a humanitarian aid drop in her village," said 1st Lt. Mike Sim, a New York City native and a platoon leader in 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
"I was sad that this injury, which obviously needed medical attention, never got it," said Sims. "The injury had occurred months earlier and had never healed properly, leaving it exposed to infection."
Sims contacted local Iraqi Police following the visit and asked them to find help for the girl.
Col. Taha, the Qoria IP station commander, heard about the little girl from fellow police officers and began making phone calls to doctors in the area, eventually finding two willing to help.
Rawaa's family brought her to Dr. Alie Adoar and Dr. Muhand Kariem at the Azadi hospital July 19. Following a pre-operative examination, they operated on her the following day.
To complete the surgery, doctors grafted tissue from the area near the wound to cover it, helping prevent the threat of future infections.
"Rawaa remained under observation for two days following the surgery to ensure the viability of the repaired scalp," said Dr. Muhand. "It was an honor to perform the procedure." Muhand plans to remain available to other children in the future.
"This story is an excellent example of the positive things that can come out of different groups working together. U.S. Military, IP and doctors all came together to help her," said Taha. "It's a beautiful story about the human condition."
Sims and his platoon visited Rawaa's family two days after the surgery and were pleased to discover her alert and active. The doctors expect she will make a full recovery.