Injured Iraqi Boy Continues Recovery, Has Surgery

A seven year old boy whose medical problems are a result of the war in Iraq took a step closer to being made whole today.

Abdul Hakeem Hussein had more surgery today.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital are trying to repair the severe damage done to his face during the war in his native Iraq.

Last month we showed you how little Abdul Hakeem made strides toward restoring the look of his eyes.

Now, he’s beginning the process of restoring the skin in his face.

It’s a process that will take some time.

Plastic Surgeons used a tissue expander the boy’s cheek.

It’s like a balloon that gradually inflates to expand the normal skin so doctors can expand the scarred skin around the cheek.

“So this has to basically first heal which will take about two weeks,” said Dr. Fred DeLeyiannis of Children’s Hospital. “And once this skin is healed, we will begin to actually inject the expander with saline fluid to make it larger. And as it enlarges it actually creates a new skin on the cheek and the goal would actually be to use that created skin to advance and replace the scar in the left cheek.”

All this comes just a month after he dramatically changed his look by receiving an artificial eye.

So the major work remaining is the restoration of his cheek.

“Well this is kind of a multi-stage kind of process and this stage the goal is to get rid of some more of the scar,” said Dr. DeLeyiannis. “We can’t take away all of the cheek scar. I can take away anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of it but we’ll have to see how the healing process progresses and how the expander heals.”

Doctors are encouraged after today’s procedure.

“Everything went great today,” said Dr. DeLeyiannis. “No concerns or problems and I think he’s going to be fine. He is (anxious). We just have to let him heal up, so that’s the trick now just let his body heal and we’ll see how it goes.”

Abdul Hakeem Hussein is resting comfortably at Children’s Hospital after the latest procedure.

After the skin procedure is complete and additional work is done around his eye, it’s possible he could be going home by this fall.

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