Global Medical Relief Fund still going strong

Elissa Montanti, Wa'ad
Elissa Montanti, right, hugs an Iraqi boy named Wa'ad after he arrives in America for further treatment on the injuries he suffered in a bombing.
CBS News

(CBS News) - Elissa Montanti is a woman in New York who worried about children in war. She had no money, no experience, but she started a charity to bring these children to the United States for treatment.

CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley first met her on assignment for "60 Minutes" a couple of years ago, and decided to catch up to find out what happened to an Iraqi boy that she was caring for, a boy named Wa'ad.

Two years ago, Wa'ad first came to America with his mother Waffa. Elissa Montanti brought them here after an American soldier told her Wa'ad's story.

"He was walking with his friends and they were kicking a bottle. I think the first child kicked a bottle. And then maybe the second. And then he kicked it and it exploded," Montanti said. "It was a bomb."

Wa'ad lost an eye, his right arm and left leg. At the Shriner's Hospital in Philadelphia, Wa'ad was fitted with new limbs. He got a prosthetic eye and in a series of surgeries in New York. Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh reconstructed Wa'ad's face - the face his mother hadn't seen in years.

After our "60 Minutes" report, donations flooded in to Montanti's shoestring charity. She's bringing in many more children disfigured by war and following up as the kids get older. Recently, Wa'ad came back, two years after we met him.

"Wa'ad has outgrown his leg and his arm. And, so he's back, and the Shriners Hospital are refitting him for both. So he's all excited about getting his new leg," Montanti said.

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Montanti said Global Medical Relief has done well in the last two years.

"We have gotten an overwhelming amount of love and support: letters, emails, donations (and) celebrities have both contributed into buying us a new home. So the children now have a house, a home away from home," Montanti said.

The home will have a playground and murals painted throughout. This new house will hold four children while they're treated. Wa'ad will soon go back to Iraq.

When asked about "Miss Elissa," Wa'ad said he loves her.

Montanti has brought more than 150 children to America for treatment, all of them cared for by doctors, nurses and hospitals volunteering their time.

  • Scott Pelley
    Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"