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Ali's plea prompts huge response

By CNN's Avril Stephens

Ali: "If I don't get a pair of hands, I will commit suicide."

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start quoteWith determination and the right resources he can get a lot out of lifeend quote
-- Sue Stokes of the charity Reach

LONDON, England (CNN) -- An appeal is gathering pace to help an Iraqi boy whose arms were blown off in an explosion that killed his family.

Thousands of people are responding to pleas having seen pictures of 12-year-old Ali Ismaeel Abbas lying in a hospital bed after a missile hit his family's home in the Diala Bridge district east of Baghdad.

"Can you help get my arms back? Do you think the doctors can get me another pair of hands?" Ali, who wanted to become a doctor, had asked from Baghdad's Kindi Hospital. (Full Story)

"If I don't get a pair of hands, I will commit suicide," he told a Reuters reporter.

Ali's body was also badly burnt and there are fears he could die from septicemia in the next few days if not properly treated.

This week his picture has appeared across many European newspapers and Web sites and the response has been strong.

Now the Limbless Association, a UK-based support charity, has set up a fund to help victims of the war in Iraq.

"All these donations will go directly towards the rehabilitation and prosthetic limbs, for Ali, and then for any other children who have been tragically rendered amputees by the Iraq conflict," said its Web site Wednesday.

Other organizations have been contacted by people from the UK and France, including the International Committee of the Red Cross. CNN has also received many offers of help.

Suggestions have been made that Ali could be sent to the UK or U.S. for treatment where reports say replacement arms could cost up to $30,000. Ali would also need further treatment as he grows older and his body develops.

General estimates for lifelong care and treatment are $1 million, the Limbless Association says.

Meanwhile the Italian newspaper Il Giornale is starting a campaign to bring Ali to the Galeazzi Orthopaedic Institute in Milan. "Let's adopt Ali, because Ali is alone," the newspaper said Wednesday.

The Kindi hospital is hopelessly overstretched, with staff working around the clock as more civilian causalities are brought in.

If Baghdad's medical staff can save him, Ali will still have a psychological struggle to overcome.

He lost his pregnant mother, father, brother and seven other members of his family.

Kiera Roche, strategic development officer for the Limbless Association, said half the battle for Ali is his mental state.

"If he knows the world is on his side, it will help him come through," she added.

Sue Stokes, national coordinator of Reach, a UK family support group for children with upper body disabilities, said Ali would have to "get used to his body image," especially as the stigma of being limbless is different in various countries.

"For all the will in the world, people will think money will be the answer," Stokes said. "It may not be if the system is not there to support him.

"But with determination and the right resources he can get a lot out of life."

Florian Westphal of the International Committee of the Red Cross, told CNN: "This case is particularly moving but indicative of a general state in Baghdad.

"It is particularly tragic when it happens to such young people."

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.

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