From Iraq to Seattle: A Little Boy's Journey of Hope

From Iraq to Seattle: A Little Boy's Journey of Hope

SEATTLE, June 4, 2006 -- The front page of today's Seattle Times featured an article by reporter Nancy Bartley about Mohammed Amir Hussein ("Hamoody"), a 3-year-old Iraqi boy who traveled to Seattle and Swedish Medical Center in May for surgery through Healing the Children’s stateside program. The article, which is the first in a series documenting Mohammed's journey, also featured numerous shots -- by photographer Thomas Hurst -- capturing moments during the boy's first three weeks in the Puget Sound area.

The story of Mohammed and his family reads like a chronology of Iraqi history for the past 15 years.

During the regime of Sadam Hussein, many of his family members were tortured. One of his uncles was sentenced to 10 years in jail. During the Gulf War of the 90s, another uncle was taken as a prisoner of war. He was later relocated to the United States, leaving behind his baby and wife. For the next few years, he lived and worked as a truck driver in Ohio. After the fall of Sadam’s regime, Mohammed’s uncle made a trip back to Iraq to see his family. One day he decided to make a car trip from Baghdad to Dyala Province, an area north of Baghdad inhabited by Sunni extremists. Accompanying him were his wife and infant son, two-year-old nephew Mohammed, and Mohammed’s mother and 4-year-old sister.

On the way home, the travelers were ambushed by a group of terrorists, who shot and killed Mohammed’s uncle. His baby received a bullet to the right thigh; his wife was injured with the pieces of flying glass from the car’s windshield; Mohammed’s mother received a near fatal head wound and Mohammed was shot in the face.

The wound Mohammed received was so severe that his face had no recognizable features. The upper two thirds of his nose were gone and both eyes were seriously injured. The right one had to be removed. His left eye was injured but could possibly be saved by surgery. However, the doctors in Iraq told the family to look elsewhere for help, as they could do nothing more.

That is when Adil Joba, one of Mohammed’s other uncles, contacted Healing the Children and Swedish Medical Center.

Swedish agreed to donate the costs of Mohammed’s hospital services and care. And numerous Swedish-affiliated physicians have agreed to donate their time and expertise.

After having arrived a few weeks ago, Mohammed has already been evaluated by eye surgeon Dr. Tom Gillette, plastic/reconstructive surgeons Dr. Wayne Larrabee and Jenifer Henderson, pediatric anesthesiologist Dr. Max Lucero and pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Tim Steege. Mohammed will next see Swedish-affiliated pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr. Anifat Balogun, and Swedish-affiliated pediatric sleep specialist, Dr. Preetam Bandla. And all along the way Swedish employee Raffi Ohanian has been volunteering his time to provide vital translation services at each of Mohammed’s medical appointments.

To read this article on The Seattle Times Web site, and to view a photo gallery of 22 shots documenting Mohammed's last few weeks, click here.

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Additional Media Coverage

  • To read a Seattle Times article published on July 11, 2006, which provides an update about Hamoody and his journey, click here.
  • To read a Seattle Times published on Oct. 22, 2006, which provides an update about Hamoody and his journey, click here.
  • To read a Seattle Times article published on Jan. 28, 2007, which provides an update about Hamoody and his journey, click here.
  • To read a Seattle Times article published on May 20, 2007, which provides an update about Hamoody and his journey, click here.
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