Posted by Sadie from D006242.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, April 08, 2003 at 8:44PM :
In Reply to: "Maharani Gayatri Devi to help Iraqi boy& posted by Sadie from D006242.N1.Vanderbilt.Edu (184.108.40.206) on Tuesday, April 08, 2003 at 8:40PM :
British company offers to make artificial arms for orphan Ali
By Graham Tibbetts
Daily Telegraph (UK)
The clinic which makes prosthetic limbs for Heather Mills McCartney offered yesterday to treat an Iraqi boy who lost both arms in an explosion in Baghdad.
Ali Ismaeel Abbas, 12, was injured when a missile destroyed his family's shack, killing his parents and eight other relatives.
His case was brought to the attention of Dorset Orthopaedic Company, based in Ringwood, Hampshire. David Hills, the clinic manager, said he would like to provide Ali with two artificial arms at cost price - less than half the standard fee.
"This is a humanitarian issue," he said. "We all feel a certain amount of guilt for what's going on in Iraq, even if we know that this war is necessary as a means to an end. All of us within the company have discussed this and feel it would be an ideal opportunity to help.
"There would be no profit involved. We just have to cover the cost of the components we don't manufacture."
The clinic was involved in a similar gesture during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. A young girl lost her entire family in a "friendly fire" incident and was later found by a charity trying to farm her family's land with one arm.
It has also worked with Mrs Mills McCartney since she lost her lower left leg in a road accident in London in 1993.
In Ali's case, Mr Hills said the most suitable option would be to give him a split hook limb for each arm. "The hook opens and closes so he would be able to pick up anything from a needle to a pint of beer. He would also have interchangeable hands for whenever he doesn't want to use the hooks."
Ali, who is also suffering from serious burns, is being treated in a hospital in Baghdad.
"Can you help me get my arms back?" he is said to have asked reporters. "Do you think the doctors can get me another pair of hands? If I don't get hands I will commit suicide." His case was raised with Dorset Orthopaedic Company by Cathy Harris, a commercial lawyer based in London who was touched by his plight after seeing his picture in The Daily Telegraph.
"When I saw the picture and read the story I couldn't help but feel I had to do something to help him. Providing him with prosthetic arms is the least we can do," she said.
The prosthetic work required would take three to four weeks and would usually cost £3,000 per limb, but the clinic is prepared to undertake the task for £1,400 per arm.
At least one offer of financial assistance has come in already, from an Indian Maharani. Rajmata (Queen Mother) Gayatri Devi, of the former Jaipur state, said that if it was possible to give Ali artificial limbs, she would pay the costs.
Florian Westphal, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, warned that it would be necessary to decide whether Ali's interests would be best served by bringing him to Britain, and said that moving him from Baghdad could be fraught with difficulty.
But he added: "We are heartened by the public interest in this case. If there is an effort under way which is aimed at helping the boy, we would be all in favour of that. Every single bid to help children like him is important."
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