Iraqi teen receiving new artificial leg

March 9, 2009 2:59:43 PM PDT
2 years ago, Mohamed Rasoul didn't go to school much, and couldn't play his favorite sport, football (soccer).

His right leg was blown off in a suicide car bombing in 2005 in his hometown of Fallujah.

He only had crutches to get around on till he came to Philadelphia's Shriners Hospital.

Mohammed was 12 years old when Action News first brought you his story,

Now, Mohammed is 14, and he has outgrown that leg. So he is here to be fitted for a new one.

Mark Holowka, a hospital orthotist, describes today's work, "We're doing a test socket fitting. That is the interface between the prosthetic, and his own limb, and we need to make sure things are fitting well, and working accordingly."

One concern is that the prosthetic is very hot in the Iraqi climate, so the Shriners team is working to ease that.

Over the next few weeks, technicans at Shriners will fashion and fit a new leg for Mohammed.

The shy teen's face lights up as he says he now rides a bicycle, and plays sports with his cousin - which he couldn't do before the prosthetic.

Mohammed told us, "I go with him, I play football. I now play anything with him."

His mother, Jinan Mohammed, says Mohamed now has a new life, "He's happy, he's always happy - Before, he was sad, very sad."

Both Mohammed and his mother exuberantly expressed their thanks to the staff at Shriner's Hospital, to Global Medical Relief - the organization which brought them here - and to the American people at large.

When they returned from their first trip, Jinan told everyone in their family and neighborhood about their wonderful experience in America.

She says Americans have "a big heart," and their generosity has opened up doors for both of them. On their first trip, both saw their first computers, and instantly fell in love with technology. Jinan, a history and geography teacher, says computers will help her teach her students about the big wide world, beyond what's in their texts.

Mohammed, too, loves computers, and hopes to go to college to study them. He hopes that university will be in America.

Mohammed's mother says life in Fallujah, Iraq is a little better than 2 years ago, but electricity & water are still scarce. She says large-scale attacks are fewer, but it is not entirely safe for children to go out.

Elissa Montanti, the founder of Global Medical Relief, says the atmosphere is still uncertain. "If the insurgents find out about Iraqis who have been to America, they can be targeted."

She told Action News the family of a little boy who had received heart care in the U-S had been attacked. Their home was bombed, and burned, killing the little boy and several family members.

Global Medical Relief now has 6 children in the U-S getting care, 5 of them at Shriner's in Philadelphia. 2 are Iraqi, 2 from Kosovo, and 1 each from Bosnia and Montenegro.

The Bosnian girl is getting burn care at Shriner's in Boston. When she was 3 days old, her house was bombed and burned on the last day of the war in Bosnia.

Here's how you can help Mohammed and other children through Global Medical Relief Fund.

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