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Iraqi boy to have surgery in the US

POSTED: April 17, 2008 5:00 a.m.
All indications are that another Iraqi child has made it the United States to receive life-saving heart surgery thanks to the intervention of a Gainesville native.

Maj. Kevin Jarrard, a Marine from Gainesville who is currently in Iraq, has worked closely with the father of little Ammar Haddad Muhammad, a 5-year-old Iraqi boy. Jarrard has been clearing IEDs with father Hammad, who is an Iraqi police captain.

According to Patrick Campbell with the Rotary International club in Charleston, S.C., Ammar and his father were to have boarded a plane Thursday in Baghdad to travel to Jordan. On Friday, they were to board a flight to the United States.

A large sandstorm in Baghdad knocked out power, Campbell reported via e-mail, but everything had been in order for the trip, including proper paperwork and tickets.

Marine Lt. Cmdr. Mike Wilson reported that as of leaving Haditha on Thursday, everything was a "go" for the trip.

"I am hoping no news is good news here for all of us," he reported via e-mail from Iraq. "Again, I have a great deal of confidence in Major Kevin Jarrard, if there was a way then Amaar should be on his way as we speak."

The United Airlines flight that should be carrying Ammar and Hammad landed in Charleston from Chicago at 10:50 p.m., according to the airline’s Web site.

A Charleston hospital has agreed to perform the surgery at no cost. The Rotary Club’s Gift of Life program will provide food and shelter for Ammar and his father throughout their stay.

"We have three host families all with children so Ammar is going to have a wonderful life’s experience in more ways than just medical," Campbell told The Times via e-mail Saturday afternoon.

Campbell added that Ammar and Hammad were to spend Saturday night at his home before going to a host family. Ammar’s stay in Charleston could last up to three months for follow-up appointments after the surgery later this month.

His first doctor’s appointment is scheduled for Monday morning, which should determine when the surgery can be done, Campbell said.

Amenah Al-Bayati, a girl from Haditha City, Iraq, was treated in the United States earlier this year for a serious, life-threatening heart defect, also through the intervention of Jarrard’s unit.

Last month, she returned home to be reunited with her family. The long-term prognosis for Amenah, who underwent a complex procedure to redirect blood from her heart to her lungs, is good, Jarrard said at the time.

Jarrard’s command in Haditha City, Iraq, is set to end on Tuesday.

Jarrard commands Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marines, a Marine Corps Reserve unit.



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