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Medical Mystery, 8-Year-Old Hussein Balhas From Lebanon Survives Rare Disease Against All Odds, and Looks for Hope and Solutions From American Doctors
Date:11/24/2008

ALO Cultural Foundation coordinates massive effort on behalf of boy

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- It is the year 2000 in Lebanon, and a young mother searches for a doctor to deliver her baby. The first one turns her away after examining the x-ray. Another recommends termination, but the parents cannot bring themselves to end a nine-month pregnancy. They have no money for a C-section, and tiny Hussein Balhas is born with overwhelming congenital defects including a left eye completely covered with skin and a right one incapable of fully closing. Doctors perform hasty operations to correct the critical malformations, but so much more is needed. The child is left with little chance of survival.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081124/LA48439)

Miraculously, he does survive. And eight years later, Hussein Balhas is a bright, spirited child with dreams of a better future. "His one wish is to look normal and see the world the way everyone sees it," said Wafa Kanan, president of the marketing agency Unique Image Inc. and founder of the ALO Cultural Foundation (ACF). Kanan learned of Hussein's struggle while distributing hearing aids in Beirut following the 2006 conflict in Lebanon. Moved by the boy's determined spirit, she recommended that ACF take up his cause.

After nearly two years of planning, Hussein arrived at Los Angeles International Airport in September to a Hollywood welcome with television cameras and a greeting from LA Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. His visa afforded him six months to find answers. Kanan and ACF, with assistance from Caroline Shrednick of Tranquility Respite Care LLC., have lined up a team of the best physicians to examine the boy, including leading reconstructive surgeons Dr. Guy Massry and Dr. Babak Azzizadeh, clinical professor of ophthalmology
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SOURCE Unique Image Inc.
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