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Photos: Los Angeles Non Profit Teams With US Troops Stationed in Baghdad and Buaytha in Bringing a 5-Year-Old Blind Iraqi Girl, Whose Father Stands Beside US Combat Team Against Al Qaeda, to the US for a Groundbreaking Artificial Corneal Transplant Surger

LOS ANGELES, May 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 5-year-old Noor came to the attention of the Battalion Commander of the 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team through an unfortunate shooting incident from a US military helicopter that resulted in the death of the little girl's uncle. The initial diagnosis made by Lt. Col. (Dr.) Hee-Choon Lee, battalion surgeon, concluded that Noor is blind due to a birth defect that resulted in poorly developed corneas in both of her eyes. Due to the ravages of war, surgery for Noor in Iraqi is impossible and, left untreated, any hope of visual recovery diminishes.

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"In the months following this unfortunate incident, Noor's father has been standing with us fighting against Al Qaeda for the past year as our Battalion came in to the "Triangle of Death". Our Battalion has lost many Soldiers and suffered many more combat casualties in this process. Were it not for Noor's father's assistance I am sure we would have suffered many more. His loyalty to the coalition forces and to the innocent people of his village has moved us to do whatever we can to help his daughter."

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Hee-Choon Lee contacted The Eye Defects Research Foundation after word spread through military channels that the Foundation was willing to fund vision-saving corneal surgeries for needy Iraqi children. After reviewing Noor's medical records, Foundation ophthalmologist, Yuri Oleynikov, M.D., Ph.D. determined the only hope for Noor's severe corneal opacity would be to perform an artificial corneal transplant using the groundbreaking Boston Keratoprosthesis. Although this procedure is highly successful in adults, it remains a difficult procedure in pediatric cases. After discussing surgical options and the donation of the expensive devise for Noor's surgery with Claes H. Dohlman, M.D., Ph.D., of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary at Harvard Medical School, it was agreed only the most highly skilled surgeon should perform her surgery. James V. Aquavella, M.D. at the University of Rochester Eye Institute has successfully performed more than 100 pediatric keratoprosthesis surgeries, and upon learning of this special patient agreed to perform Noor's surgery and Bausch & Lomb agreed to fund all the hospital charges at the University of Rochester Eye Institute.

Noor's transplant will be coordinated and funded by The Eye Defects Research Foundation, with support provided by the United States Multi-National Forces, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, James V. Aquavella, M.D., the University of Rochester Eye Institute, Tissue Banks International, Alcon, Bausch and Lomb, Allergan, and Dr. Aloi Nahas.


-- Saturday May 31st: Noor & her mother arrive at JFK airport from Amman, Jordan and fly to Rochester, New York with Foundation Development Director, Jacquie Navratil. Arriving at 10:35 pm.

-- Monday June 2nd: Noor's transplant will be performed at the University of Rochester Eye Institute with follow-up treatment provided 06/03/08 - 06/06/08 by Dr. Aquavella.

-- Saturday June 7th: Noor and her mother depart Rochester and return to Amman, Jordan, on to Baghdad and finally to their home in Buaytha, Iraq.

The World Health Organization estimates that 75 percent of the world's blind could be cured. The Eye Defects Research Foundation, founded by Yaron S. Rabinowitz, M.D., and is committed to funding research into blinding eye disease and delivering vision-saving surgeries to children here in the U.S. and in developing and war-torn regions throughout the world. As the humanitarian crisis in Iraq escalates, medical assistance becomes paramount in the stabilization effort.

SOURCE The Eye Defects Research Association
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