Iraqi boy recovers in SF after surgery

October 16, 2009 6:32:50 PM PDT
Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco is celebrating its 20th anniversary of helping families with critically ill children. A little boy from Iraq, who received some life-changing medical treatment in San Francisco, still visits the "house" he lived in with his dad, while recuperating from the surgery.

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ABC7 caught up with little Mustafa and his father to see how they're doing now.

"This is my second family and I cannot wait until my wife and my other child come, so I can introduce them to these wonderful people," said Ghazwan Al-Nidawi through a translator.

Al-Nidawi and his 4-year-old son, Mustafa, love to visit the Ronald McDonald house in San Francisco. They're from Iraq and lived here for seven months, while Mustafa was getting medical treatment at UCSF.

They developed such a close relationship with the staff, they even celebrated Mustafa's recent birthday.

Mustafa and his father arrived in the Bay Area from Iraq back in December 2008 for the surgery. The little boy was injured when he was two years old at his home in Baqouba during a U.S. airstrike when a missile exploded nearby.

Mustafa survived the explosion, but lost his hearing. His father's appeal for help was answered by humanitarian organizations which brought him here.

Mustafa needed to have an electronic device implanted to restore his hearing, at the University of California San Francisco. Now, Mustafa is doing extremely well in school. His cochlear implant was activated and turns sound waves into electronic signals that allow him to hear.

"When he first arrived, he was coming to class, he did not respond to any sounds at all. Once he was activated, he started responding to sound, very aware of sound. That has moved from sound, said Janet Christensen from the Hearing and Speech Center of Northern California.

Mustafa is attending the Hearing and Speech Center of Northern California in San Francisco, which is walking distance from Ronald McDonald House.

That's where I visited Ghazwan and the executive director of Ronald McDonald House, Lois Moore. Layla Shawasheh interpreted for us, because Ghazwan is still working on his English skills.

"When I pick him up from school, we love to just stop by and see what's going on at the Ronald McDonald house and be a part of it because we still feel welcome here," said Ghazwan.

Ghazwan has moved into an apartment, but he still comes to the Ronald McDonald House where he continues to get emotional support and help with the basics of living.

"If I have to pay my bills, the electricity, I give her the money and she'll go and write the check for my bills, where can I find something better than this?" said Ghazwan.

Ghazwan is waiting for his wife and other son to join him. They have been granted political asylum. his experience here has changed his life.

"Thank God I have asylum, I will not go back. The future for my wife and children is here. Thank you Ronald McDonald house. Thank you very much, so much," said Ghazwan. Related link: www.ronaldhouse-sf.org

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