BAGHDAD, Iraq – Time is not on Rawan Al-Anni's side.
Nicknamed Una, the 15-year-old girl has an aggressive form of cancer in her brain stem. In just three months, the disease has wracked her body and she struggles to move and even talk. And she needs help fast.
"The local doctors advised me to take her home and wait," Una's father said. "There is nothing more they could do."
But Una's parents didn't give up. They got the Minister of Health involved, who got the attention of U.S.-led coalition officials, who turned to American doctors at the military's combat hospital in Baghdad.
Coalition doctors performed emergency surgery to relieve the pressure in Una's brain but it did nothing for the tumor, which if untreated, will kill the tenth grader in weeks. But with specialized surgery and radiation available in the United States, however, Una may get another 10 years of life or more.
Una's father said through a translator that he had never had any dealings with Americans before but that what he saw in the movies "was real. That Americans don't hesitate to do what's asked of them."
Jim Hicks, who came to Iraq to be the coalition's point man on electricity, is spearheading the effort to save the teenager.
He launched a fund-raising drive to cover travel and living expenses and got U.S. civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer (search) involved, who lined up free surgery at Children's Hospital Boston (search).
"She's a delightful young lady and I guess you take these as opportunities," Hicks said. "We're doing a lot of things that do a lot of good for Iraq as a nation, we also have to be successful in treating the individuals correctly … this was an opportunity I found I could make a difference."
Doctors said Una is just one Iraqi child who has dire medical needs and that with the coalition's help, they're more likely to get those needs met.
"We need sponsors in America. People who are willing to … foot the bill for what really is expensive care for these little children," said Lt. Col. Jeff Poffenbarger, the neurosurgeon who operated on Una in Baghdad.
"They're innocent victims of what's very tough situation … these kids are out there, and they're often ignored by the system. There are a lot of priorities out there and they're for fighting a war, taking care of many different things on a national and global scale. The little ones just get overlooked."
Click here to watch a report by Fox News Channel's Jeff Goldblatt.
People interested in contributing to travel and living expenses for Una and her family can make donations to:
c/o Thomas C. Ruff Jr. & Assoc., Atty.
201 McCullough Drive, Suite 130
Charlotte, NC 28262