HOUSTON – Back when Saddam Hussein (search) ruled Iraq, seven merchants were found guilty of using U.S. dollars instead of Iraqi dinars and were punished by having their right hands chopped off and X’s tattooed on their foreheads.
In Islamic culture, having a right hand cut off is a severe form of public shame. For Saddam's regime, sending Iraqis back into public without a hand reinforced the former dictator's harsh rule.
But for seven Iraqi men, nine years of public shame are finally over.
These men are now in Houston undergoing rehabilitation. Through plastic surgery, the black X’s are gone from their foreheads and they all now have state-of-the-art prosthetic right hands, which once again allows them to do simple things like tying their shoes.
“They all cried and had tears in their eyes when they put these on,” said David Baty, director of prosthetics at Dynamic Orthotics and Prosthetics (search) in Houston.
The prosthetic hands work with what’s called myoelectric technology (search).
Electric sensors in the forearm read electric pulses in their muscles to then open, close and squeeze.
“We have a lot of gifts from God,” said Dr. Sabah al Rubayi, the Iraqi doctor who flew with the men to Houston. “We have two eyes and we don’t know the benefit of two eyes unless we missed one eye.”
Each of the prosthetic hands cost between $25,000 and $50,000. For each of the Iraqis, the whole procedure and rehabilitation is worth about $150,000.
But for the Iraqi men, everything is being done for free.
Click here to watch a complete report by Fox News' Phil Keating.