KUWAIT CITY – A 12-year-old Iraqi boy who lost his arms and suffered severe burns when a missile struck his Baghdad home was recovering from surgery on Thursday, cheered by gifts from the hospital staff, his plastic surgeon said.
Ali Ismaeel Abbas underwent skin graft surgery Wednesday, nearly three weeks after his home was destroyed in the bombardment of Baghdad, killing his father, siblings and pregnant mother.
The boy, who has become a symbol of Iraqi suffering during the war, was elated by the gift of a television set and compact disc player from the hospital staff at the Saud A. Albabtain Center for Burns and Plastic Surgery in Kuwait City, Dr. Imad Najada said Thursday.
"He is very happy to see a TV after 21 days," Najada said.
After two days of media frenzy — including an arrival at the hospital Wednesday where orderlies had trouble getting the terrified boy through a throng of cameramen and photographers — hospital officials banned journalists from his treatment room.
Doctors scraped away dead and infected tissue and grafted skin from a donor during Wednesday's surgery. They hope to replace the temporary grafts with skin from Ali's back and buttocks as soon as Monday.
"Ali today is much better than yesterday," Najada said. "His general condition is improving, he is more stable than yesterday."
Ali was flown to Kuwait by U.S. military aircraft early Wednesday.
Najada said the boy was burned over about 35 percent of his body, mostly on his abdomen, from his upper chest to his pelvis.
Recovery from such severe burns often takes a year, and the cost runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Several charities have offered to help pay for the treatment.