Air Force Helps Bring Burned Iraqi Boy Back From Brink Of Death




 
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Air Force Helps Bring Burned Iraqi Boy Back From Brink Of Death
 
March 22nd, 2008  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Air Force Helps Bring Burned Iraqi Boy Back From Brink Of Death


Air Force Helps Bring Burned Iraqi Boy Back From Brink Of Death
Mideast Stars and Stripes
March 22, 2008 By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Doctors at the Balad Air Base hospital in Iraq initially called the severely burned 3-year-old boy “expectant.” That’s medical jargon meaning they expected him to die.
For patients like these, doctors and nurses believe the injuries are so severe that the best they can do is administer pain medicine and wait.
But something else happened. The toddler, the victim of a stove fire that left second- and third-degree burns over half his body, refused to die. To the amazement of the Air Force Theater Hospital staff, he fought to survive.
So doctors fought to save him.
Since he arrived at the hospital on Jan. 25, the boy has made an incredible recovery few thought possible weeks ago. Now the boy, whom staff members call the “miracle child,” is on his way to the United States to receive specialized care not available in Iraq.
The boy and his mother, who asked that their names not be released for safety reasons, arrived at Ramstein on Friday afternoon en route to a U.S. hospital for additional life-saving care. Members of the 435th Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility later helped him board another plane for the Shriners Hospitals for Children-Cincinnati.
As Army, Navy and Air Force medical specialists inside a C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane at Ramstein prepared to move the boy to a waiting ambulance, the mother praised the doctors and nurses for helping save her son’s life.
“Because of them,” she said through an interpreter. “They give us hope.”
Her son’s resilience over the past two months has inspired hospital staff, whose members have had their share of emotional ups and downs while treating the war’s wounded, Capt. Michael Riegler said.
Riegler, a 332nd Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron nurse deployed to Balad, said doctors and nurses treated the boy despite the dire diagnosis. As he showed signs of improvement, surgeons did the best they could to keep him alive. Each day, he got a little better.
On Friday, Riegler’s eyes began to well with tears as he reflected upon the boy’s resurgence and the efforts by hospital staff members to save him.
“For me personally, it’s still hard to talk about,” said Riegler, who has a 5-month-old daughter and a 3-year-old son. “They see him as a little miracle. I think it gives hope for us who are there.”
For weeks, the boy’s family thought he had died.
An uncle who traveled with the boy to the hospital visited his nephew the first couple of days but never returned after staff members told him the boy likely would not survive. The boy improved, but the hospital had no way of contacting the family because the uncle never left any contact information.
After weeks of searching and with the help of Iraqi army officials, Riegler and Iraqi interpreter Basem Hadi found the uncle. He told them insurgents had recently killed the boy’s father, and the boy was the mother’s only child. When the mother found out the good news, she was shocked.
“It is something now that is still hard to believe,” she said.
Despite his incredible progress, the boy still has a long way to go. He is expected to make a full recovery with the help of burn specialists, but his scorched skin will become tighter as he gets older. The nonprofit organization Children Without Borders will host the mother and boy in Ohio. They will stay in the United States for a year. After that, he will be re-evaluated.
As specialists help the boy get better, Riegler said staff members at the hospital in Balad would be following his progress from afar.
“Sometimes it’s pretty difficult where we work and the things we have to do,” Riegler said. “So, I think for a lot of people this child means a lot.”
 


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