Ali Mousa was brought to the medical center for a life-threatening, benign tumor on his neck and jaw -- advanced cystic hygroma -- that had grown so large, it interfered with his breathing and swallowing. The congenital condition is a tumor of the lymphatic system characterized by a large, fluid-filled sac. According to doctors at Swedish, the condition, which is generally treated early in the West, is most likely caused by a failure of the lymph system to properly connect with blood vessels in the neck. But inadequate health care in Iraq had allowed the lesion to swell and encroach on Ali's airway.
Swedish -- and the physicians involved in his care -- decided to donate all the costs of his treatment, more than $250,000, after former KING 5 Television news anchor Margaret Larson brought the situation to their attention and asked for help. Larson met Mousa when she traveled to Iraq as part of a mission with the nonprofit aid group Mercy Corps.
Doctors at Swedish performed a 15-hour surgery on July 17-18, involving 18 hours of anesthetic time, to make breathing and swallowing easier for Ali. The general pediatric surgeons were Ian Neilson, M.D., and Monja Proctor, M.D., of Swedish Pediatric Specialty Care. Other key physicians included: anesthesiologists Robbie Thomas, M.D., Max Lucero, M.D., and Paul Benz, M.D.; interventional radiologist Phil Vogelzang, M.D.; ear-nose-and-throat specialists David Moore, M.D., and Stephen Clark, M.D.; residents Julie Kerr, M.D., and Brian Levine, M.D.; and Virginia Mason plastic surgeon Keith Paige, M.D. In addition, many others at Swedish helped make Ali's treatment possible, including the nursing staff, child life specialists, Surgical Services, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and International Patient Services.
As of late August, about $15,000 has been raised to defray travel and related expenses and provide a stipend for the family, said Larson, who was instrumental in securing the surgery. She is working to bring Ali, who was here without a passport on a humanitarian parole visa, back next summer and also trying to arrange for medical care in Jordan or Kuwait in case of emergencies. Swedish will provide and pay for any follow-up care Ali might be in need of here over the next 18 months.
Mercy Corps is accepting contributions to defray travel expenses and to prepare a stipend for Ali Mousa and his father. Any donations made beyond those costs will go toward basic health and education for other Iraqi children. Tax-deductible donations can be made to: Ali's Fund, Mercy Corps, P.O. Box 2669, Portland, OR 97208-2669 or by calling 1-800-292-3355, Ext. 250.
For more information, here are links to articles the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran about this story: