I recently met a little Iraqi baby boy named Karm, a baby who could easily steal your heart. He is unusually charismatic for an 8-month-old child. He makes eye contact with everyone in the room, smiles widely and tries to speak to you. His mother says he rarely cries and has already learned to say "Ma-Ma" and "Da-Da." He seems like the perfect baby. It's not until he laughs and reaches out to you that you notice that something is wrong.
Karm, both of whose parents are doctors, was injured during birth, leaving his right arm is paralyzed. On the night she went into labor, Karm's mother was shot at while trying to pass through a police checkpoint on the way to the hospital where her husband was working. She had to turn back and give birth in her house with the help of a midwife. The labor turned out to be long and difficult. During the birth, vital nerves in Karm's right shoulder were torn and he was unable to move his arm.
Without some highly specialized surgery, the injuries Karm sustained can be permanent. But there were no doctors in Iraq who could do the surgery. So Karm's father sent out a desperate e-mail and video message to doctors around the world who he thought might be able to do the surgery. Exactly one doctor said, "Yes."
We went to Houston, Texas, to witness Karm's surgery. His family told us that just getting Karm into the doctor's hands took a series of legal, financial, bureaucratic and logistical miracles. We also learned that the surgery to restore the use of Karm's lifeless arm may have been the biggest miracle of all. The doctor who performed the surgery said he saw just how extensive the damage was when he opened the kid up.
We were given a rare front row seat to the surgery. Standing next to the operating table and dressed in sterile coveralls, masks and caps, we watched the surgeon go to work on this loveable little boy. Fortunately, the doctor was able to repair the nerve damage in Karm's shoulder. And he is expected to regain some use of his right harm and hand.