NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- From half a world away, a gravely injured Iraqi boy was flown to Long Island for lifesaving treatment – and on Monday, he and his family had the chance to thank his doctors and the charity that gave him a second chance at childhood.
Even as the war slowly wins down, Iraq is still a dangerous place, not just for American soldiers, but for the people who live there, as well. Mostly because of the signature weapons of this war: Roadside bombs.
Nine-year-old Waad Borkan's face still bearst he scars of the bomb that nearly took his life.
"Earlier this year, when he was playing with his friends in the streets on the outskirts of Baghdad, and he found an improvised explosive device, he thought it was a ball or a toy," said Dr. Kaveh Alizadeh, Borkan's plastic surgeon. "He picked it up and started playing with it."
The explosion took his leg, arm, eye and almost half of his face. He couldn't walk. He couldn't smile.
Shortly after the incident, the Global Medical Relief Fund, a Staten Island charity, arranged to bring the boy to the North Shore LIJ Hospital.
Dr. Alizadeh began what would be more than 12 surgeries to try and give Borkan as close to a normal life as possible. Their biggest challenge was the facial scarring.
"During that process, we also put in a bunch of ball of balloons that were able to stretch out his normal skin," Dr. Alizadeh. "And over the ensuing months, we stretched out the skina round his neck, scalp as well as the areas around hismouth. And we were able to use that extra skin, the normal skin, to replace all the scars."
Now, Borkan can walk, and he once again has the glowing face of a happy little boy.
"They fixed this young man and made him whole again," said Michael Fowling of North Shore LIJ. "They turned what was a nightmare of a situation into a functioning, happy, smiling human being once again."
Now that he has a future, Waad Borkan knows what he wants to do with it: Be a teacher.
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