Hospital happily sends boy back home

May 20, 2008 3:21:03 PM PDT
All smiles today for a young boy from Iraq who received a special gift from a local hospital. Five-year-old Mohammed Alshehabi is now very much on the road to recovery after an enormous effort to get this adorable youngster out of Iraq to receive life-saving surgery.

It all started when Lt. Col. Robert Balcavage e-mailed a photo from the warfront to his brother Eric who replied by asking what the purpose of the picture was.

Robert then told his brother that Mohammed was born with a serious defect that severely hampered his ability to have a bowel movement.

Members of the Balcavage family took it upon themselves to organize a mission to get him to the U.S. for the surgery.

With the help of the US Military, the Rotary Club, volunteers, and Lehigh Valley Hospital's decision to perform the procedure for free, it's now expected that Mohammed will lead a normal life.

Dr. William Hardin was Mohammed's attending surgeon.

"We were able to get this accomplished in terms of reconstructing, essentially building him a new lower GI tract," Dr. Hardin said.

Through his two surgeries and rehabilitation in the Lehigh Valley, he stayed with Amal Yahy, a Kuwaiti-American who volunteered to care for him during his 6-month stay.

Not surprisingly, she fell in love. That's why saying goodbye is going to be tough.

"We did a big thing for Mohammed and he has to go back to his family. It's going to be hard, but we have to do that," Yahy said.

Amal Yahy will now fly with Mohammed all the way to Jordan where US Military officials will take over the mission and deliver him to his anxious family in Iraq.