Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Iraqi baby gets life-changing surgery in Texas
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.
Posted By David Mattingly, CNN Correspondent: 2:53 PM ET
  4 Comments
Hi David,
Exactly one doctor said yes? I would have hoped that thousands of Doctors from around the world would have volunteered their services for such a good cause. No one could ever accuse Houston Texas of not stepping up to the plate over and over to help their fellow human beings out. We owe them some thanks. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton Calif. : 4:09 PM ET
It's sad to know that this could have been prevented if only Karm's mom could have made it to the hospital. Sadly this happens all over the world...but with not as good of an outcome. Hopefully, he will make a full and speedy recovery.
Posted By Anonymous Cynthia, Covington, Ga. : 4:21 PM ET
This family has been through alot, and I'm sure similar situations, unfortunately, are occurring all over. Especially in Iraq and countries where there are wars, and where under different circumstances the injury might have been prevented. When you wrote that exactly one doctor said 'yes', were there no other offers of help? The idea that intrigues me most about this, is that one father called out for help all those miles away, and connected with one surgeon who was able to respond. That's amazing! I'm wondering what it was that prompted that surgeon to say yes and to take this on. Hope to hear more about it tonight. Wishing Karm a speedy recovery and restoration of use of his arm. He sounds like a little charmer.
Posted By Anonymous Vicky , Ottawa, ON : 5:05 PM ET
In our state we hear a lot about malpractice suits and the high cost of malpractice insurance. Maybe many doctors are hesitant of volunteering to perform a surgery where the chances of a successful outcome are slim. It was still quite a surprise though to see only one doctor come forward.
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 5:40 PM ET
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