Thursday, May 20, 2004

Iraqi baby with neck growth to be treated in Columbus

By Anita Chang
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - An 8-month-old Iraqi girl made the second leg of her long journey to Ohio on Wednesday to receive medical care for a possibly fatal neck growth.

Fatemah Hassan was blue from lack of oxygen when her parents brought her last month to a U.S. military base in Iraq, where she was treated by Lt. Col. Todd Fredricks, who practices in Marietta.

The child has what Army doctors believe to be a cavernous hemangioma, caused by a dense group of blood vessels that have grown so large that they could restrict her breathing.

"The tumor is on her neck and chest wall. This tumor could potentially threaten her ability to breathe if not removed in the near future," Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to request expedited visas for Fatemah and her mother, Beyda'a Amir Abdul Jabar.

It took Fredricks three days to stabilize her, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Fredricks contacted Children's Hospital in Columbus, where Dr. Gayle Gordillo is director of the Hemangioma and Vascular Malformation Clinic.

He also contacted Strickland's office, while Lt. Col. Mike Brumbage, his colleague in the 1st Infantry Division stationed in Baghdad, contacted one of his home state's senators, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, also a Democrat.

Gordillo presented the case last month to Children's Hospital's International Patient Committee, which decided that Fatemah could be treated at no cost if she could get to Columbus.

The hospital found a Kurdish family in the Columbus area to host Fatemah and her mother while she received medical treatment. Fatemah and her family are part of Iraq's Kurdish ethnic minority.

A C-141 cargo plane, converted to hold medical patients, was expected to land at Rickenbacker Air National Guard base in Columbus late Wednesday.

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