By Sgt. 1st Class Stacy NilesJune 20, 2008
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq - When she was born, doctors didn't expect her to live a week, but a one-year-old Iraqi girl is defying the odds and on June 30, Soldiers half a world away will have their hopes and prayers pinned on her recovery.
Noor was born with bladder exstrophy - a rare congenital disease in which the bladder protrudes outside of the abdominal wall - along with other complications including separation of the pelvic bones and a rectal prolapse.
In most countries, surgery to repair bladder exstrophy is usually performed within the first 48 hours after birth, but the the care required to correct bladder exstrophy was unavailable in Iraq.
Noor was brought to FOB Delta in January 2008, where doctors from the 948th FST performed a series of life-saving surgical procedures from February through March 2008, to reduce her prolapsed rectum
The 948th commander, Lt. Col. Paul Brisson, notified Boston Children's Hospital of Noor's case and the hospital volunteered to accept her as a patient.
Surgeons in Boston agreed to donate their services to help her, and an anonymous donor in Cambridge, Mass., donated $100,000 for Noor's medical care. Her surgery is scheduled for June 30 at Boston Children's Hospital.
In addition to surgery to repair the bladder, Noor will also require orthopedic surgery on her pelvis and hips as well as reconstruction and corrective procedures, said Capt. Michael Mullaly, an operating room nurse with the 912th Forward Surgical Team. Mullaly was attached to the 948th FST as an operating room nurse when Noor began treatment in the FOB Delta medical facility earlier this year.
"When Noor was born...and when I saw her condition...I wished to die," said Zainab Najy, Noor's mother. "I felt hopeless and helpless...and because of the lack of adequate care that can treat her and because of our financial situation, we could not afford to help her. I was expecting her to die at any moment; I even told my mother that I don't want to get attached to her, because I thought she would die soon."
"But as days go by, Noor resisted...and stayed alive. I was hurt all the time as I watch other children walking and playing...but Noor can't even sit or walk. My life became filled with depression, sadness and pain," said Najy.
"I was so sad and depressed, but now, I am happy because I feel that Noor will live and all this made possible by the American people...and the American Troops and the medical staff who helped us save Noor's life," she added.
"My feeling was desperate, for a father who sees his daughter suffering...and we could not help her. The Iraqi doctors could not help her, that's why we came (to Army doctors)," said Neseer M. Jemeel, Noor's father.
"I was so happy when I heard my daughter will be treated...because I had lost hope completely...but I am so happy now. I feel safe because (the Americans) are caring. They care about children, mothers; they know life is valuable, and they are true human beings."
When Noor and her mother arrive in Boston, they will be greeted by a friendly face - Capt. Michael Mullaly. Mullaly, who was attached to the 948th FST as an operating room nurse when Noor began treatment in the FOB Delta medical facility earlier this year and is now an operating room nurse at St. Vincent's Hospital in Worchester, Mass., plans to meet them when they land.
"It can be overwhelming," said Mullaly of traveling to a new country where you know no one and don't speak the language. "I think a familiar face would make it easier."
Mullaly has seen Noor on five occasions. "I'm pretty vested in this case. I'm attached to this baby," said Mullaly.