The plastic surgeon treating the injured Iraqi orphan Ali Ismail Abbas said last night that the boy was recovering well after his first round of life-saving treatment.
The critically ill 12-year-old lost both his arms and suffered horrific burns when his house was destroyed in the Allied bombing of Baghdad. Sixteen members of his family were killed in the raids on the Iraqi capital.
His desperate plight touched millions of people around the world and he was flown to Kuwait after an appeal by medical staff in Iraq. Ali blinked at flashing cameras as he arrived at the clinic, pursued by camera crews and photographers.
Imad Najada, of the Saud Al-Babtain Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery, said Ali spent 75 minutes under the knife yesterday afternoon while tissue infected with septicaemia was cut away from his wounds.
A layer of skin, from the clinic's skin bank, was also laid across his burns to form a temporary cover. "He's doing well. He's awake and we're changing his dressing. He's recovering. He will be OK," Dr Najada said. "We cut off all his dead skin. It's a strategy for cleaning – removing all the dead tissue."
He added that he hoped to perform a graft using Ali's own skin from uninjured areas such as his back next week. "At the centre for burns we receive the worst cases. We have good success with people who are 80 or 90 per cent burnt. Ali has around 35 per cent burns," he said.
Dr Najada said it could be weeks before Ali could be measured for artificial limbs.
The boy is receiving large amounts of antibiotics and pain relievers, as well as fluids for his dehydration. He is accompanied by his uncle, Mohammed al-Sultany – one of his only surviving relatives.
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