Alaa’ Khalid Hamdan was severely injured when a U.S. tank round slammed into her family’s home in Al Qaim, Iraq. It was May 3, 2005, around three in the afternoon, and the children were having a tea party. Two of Alaa’s brothers and three of her cousins were killed, all children under ten years of age. Fourteen women and children were killed or injured in the attack, which occurred while the men were at work.
Alaa’ was peppered with shrapnel in her legs, abdomen and chest, and urgently needed an operation to save her eyesight. Micro-shrapnel from the US tank round was embedded in both eyes, and her retina was detached. If the fragments were not removed soon, she faced a lifetime of blindness. We received her medical reports in June of 2005.
No medical services were provided by the US military for Alaa’ or her injured mother. Alaa’s impending blindness was of no consequence to occupation authorities. Ashley Severance, a 22-year-old law student from Melbourne, Florida, contacted NMV and offered to help. She worked for months to set up pro-bono medical care in Orlando. Dr. Saad Shaik, a gifted retinal surgeon, agreed to provide his services free of charge. Alan Pogue traveled to meet Alaa’ and her father in Amman, Jordan, helped them the difficult and time-consuming process of obtaining medical visas, and accompanied them to Orlando. They arrived in November, 2005:
As reported in the Orange County Register : “A surgery in Orlando to remove micro-shrapnel from her eyes and reattach her retina was successful. The surgeon there said if the eyes had gone untreated a few more days, she would have been blinded forever.”
Alaa’ also received expert surgical treatment at Children’s Hospital of Orange, California, where Dr. Ali Kavianian repaired an abdominal hernia caused by a shrapnel wound. We are grateful to the hospital staff and Dr. Kavianian for their skill and generosity.