Noora’s Journey

This is a chronology of Noora's first visit to Portland, ME. To see an excellent video report about her visit that was broadcast on New England Cable News, click here. The "sniper's bullet" was fired by a US soldier.

OCT. 23, 2006: Noora Afif Abdulhameed is hit by a sniper's bullet in Iraq on her way home from a family celebration. The bullet makes a large hole in her skull and destroys her cerebral membrane, the protective covering that surrounds the brain. Noora lies in a coma for 10 days.

JUNE 6, 2008: Noora and her father, Afif Abdulhameed Otaiwi, leave their hometown of Heet and travel to Amman, Jordan, the first leg of their journey to America.

JULY 10, 2008: Noora and her father arrive at the Portland Jetport, where they are greeted by a crowd of well-wishers.

JULY 15, 2008: Noora goes to Maine Medical Center for the first time for a CT scan to assess the extent of her head injury. Doctors are unable to find a usable vein because of the scar tissue she's developed getting numerous IVs in Iraq, and the procedure is delayed for a few days.

AUG. 22, 2008: Noora receives a balloon implant to stretch her scalp so there will be enough skin to cover her artificial skull after it is attached.

DEC. 12, 2008: In a six-hour operation at Maine Med, the thigh graft that was placed over Noora's wound by Iraqi doctors to protect her brain is removed. A prosthetic piece of skull custom-made for her head is then placed over her injury.

JAN. 19, 2009: The skin stretched over Noora's new skull does not heal properly, so Noora's plastic surgeon applies a product to encourage the growth of new skin.

FEB. 23, 2009: The product applied Jan. 19 doesn't work, so doctors remove Noora's prosthetic skull piece so that it can be sterilized. Three expandable balloons are placed under her scalp to make more skin over the next few weeks. The new skin will eventually be pulled over the wound.

MAY 4, 2009: In a three-hour operation, Noora's prosthetic skull piece is successfully reinserted and her new skin is stretched over the plate, eliminating a large portion of the scar tissue on her head.

MAY 20, 2009: Noora gets approval from her doctors to go home to Iraq.

MAY 30, 2009: Friends throw a going-away party for Noora and her father at Fort Williams Park, one of their favorite places in Maine.

JUNE 4, 2009: Noora participates in a fashion-show fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House.

JUNE 6, 2009: Noora and her father fly to New York to begin their long journey home to Iraq.

Noora later returned for two additional rounds of reconstructive surgery.

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