On November 3, 2004, Mustafa Ahmed Abed, a toddler still in diapers, came down with a fever. He lived in Fallujah, a city in western Iraq that had been devastated by American forces in April. More than 800 civilians had been killed, thousands of homes damaged or destroyed, and the city was on the eve of another more savage attack. The polls had closed a few hours before in the United States. For weeks the mainstream media had been enthusiastically reporting that the US military was “gonna kick some ass” in Fallujah after the presidential election was over. Mustafa and his father describe what that meant for a tiny two-year-old boy:
Mustafa’s mother took him to a clinic for a shot of antibiotics. She was returning home when an American air attack started. She fled down the street carrying Mustafa in her arms, but a missile struck nearby, throwing her to the ground and peppering her arms and chest with shrapnel. The blast knocked her unconscious. When she regained consciousness, she saw Mustafa lying on the ground a few feet away, screaming and covered in blood. Shrapnel had torn his leg and most of his hip from his body.
Two people walking side-by-side had to carry Mustafa to the hospital: one to carry his body, and the other to carry his intestines and what was left of his leg in a blanket. A large section of Mustafa’s colon had to be removed before he could be transferred to a hospital in Ramadi. The Americans were on the verge of attacking the city using white phosphorus, cluster munitions, depleted uranium —
Though doctors in Iraq were able to save the boy’s life, they couldn’t deal with his extensive internal injuries or provide the prosthetic services he needed. He developed extremely painful kidney and bladder stones, and endured frequent periods of severe pain for four long years. A small kidney stone can put a linebacker flat on his back, screaming in agony. Mustafa was riddled with kidney stones in both kidneys, and a bladder stone the size of an egg. At six years of age, he weighed only 21 pounds.
No More Victims brought Mustafa to Portland, Oregon in September 2008, where doctors said he was within a few weeks of certain death. One of his kidneys failed and had to be removed. He received critical care in Portland that saved his life and one of his kidneys. He was then fitted with a prosthetic leg and underwent extensive rehabilitation treatment at Shriners Hospital.
Maxine Fookson and Ned Roach contacted NMV after seeing a segment about Salee Allawe on Democracy Now with Amy Goodman. They formed a project, and NMV sent Mustafa’s medical reports for review by local doctors. Maxine and Ned organized more than fifty community members who went to work to help Mustafa and his family. Shriners Hospital of Portland, Oregon generously agreed to treat Mustafa free of charge, and another hospital provided emergency care for Mustafa’s internal injuries that literally saved his life.