Thanks to a Long Island surgeon, an Iraqi boy who was horribly maimed and disfigured after setting off an improvised explosive device in 2008 has been given back the childhood that had been violently stolen from him.
Waad Baktar, 9, and his pals were kicking a bottle down the street on the outskirts of Baghdad when it suddenly exploded. Baktar was left without an arm, a leg, an eye and any real hope for a decent life.
The boy's heartbreaking plight caught the attention of American military personnel in Iraq, who proposed Baktar for plastic surgery in the United States.
Waad and his mother were flown to New York in April through the Global Medical Relief Fund so he could be put back together by renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh.
Now, the melancholy boy who once sat silently in a wheelchair now bounds up stairs and smiles widely whenever greeted by a stranger.
"Thank you," Waad said softly yesterday as he kissed his doctor on the cheek on the eve of his return flight to Iraq. "Thank you to everyone."
Alizadeh provided Waad with a prosthetic arm, leg and eye, and placed skin grafts on his severely burned face over the course of four months of treatment at North Shore Hospital in Manhasset.
Waad has been transformed back into a happy little boy, the surgeon said.
"The smile has not left his face since we first met," Alizadeh said. "And now it's nice to see that his mother is smiling, too."Click here to read more on this story.