Kuwaiti doctors performed plastic surgery today on a 12-year-old boy who suffered severe burns and lost both his arms during the U.S. bombardment of Baghdad, becoming a symbol of Iraqi suffering during the war.
Ali Ismaeel Abbas moaned and begged for water after the 75-minute operation in which doctors scraped away infected and dead tissue and replaced it with temporary grafts of skin from a donor. Doctors said the grafts could be replaced with skin from the boy's back and buttocks on Monday.
"Pain, I'm in pain!" the boy cried, wrapped in bandages from the neck down. He was given painkillers and sips of water.
"His prognosis is good," said Imad Najada, the plastic surgeon who performed the operation at the Saud A. Albabtain Center for Burns and Plastic Surgery. "About 35 percent of his body is burned. We have treated patients with up to 85 and 90 percent with good survival."
Ali sustained his injuries when a missile struck his home late last month during the U.S. assault on the Iraqi capital, killing his father, pregnant mother and siblings. The boy's suffering has attracted worldwide attention.
Accompanied by an uncle, he flew to Kuwait on a U.S. military plane early today.
The boy was smiling when Sabah Ahmed Sabah, Kuwait's deputy prime minister and foreign minister, visited him and several other Iraqi children being treated at the hospital. Sabah presented Ali with flowers and told him not to fear anything because he was among family, a spokesman for the Kuwaiti Health Ministry said.
Recovery from such burns often takes a year, and the medical treatment can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Several charities worldwide have offered to help pay for Ali's treatment.