When Iraqi cameraman Jehad
Ali came to the United States last September to have corrective surgery
for severe injuries he sustained in a December 2005 attack by
gunmen in Baghdad, the plan was to spend two months in Valencia,
California. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Donald Wiss had offered to waive his fee and
The attack blew away the cameraman's femur. Dr. Wiss had
agreed to examine Jehad and potentially perform a plate-grafting procedure
based on medical reports from physicians in
It wasn't until he
met CBS international correspondent Lara Logan in 2007 that Jehad
even had a possibility of getting surgery to permanently correct his injury.
According to Dr. Wiss, one hope remained--a highly specialized limb-lengthening procedure--but it was not his area of expertise. A new doctor and hospital would have to be found willing to similarly donate their services. The search brought Jehad back to the east coast, where he spent five weeks in Baltimore and Washington, and then back to the west coast, this time to Northern California, where Orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Lowenberg and the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco generously agreed to perform the surgery at no cost. The procedure is complex; Jehad may need a many as three rounds of surgery and several months to recover.
With the ever-increasing intricacy of Jehad's case, the outpouring
of support from so many directions has been nothing short of incredible. It's a
case that has galvanized the media, medical, and legal communities, all looking
forward, as Jehad himself is, to the day he can carry a camera again. Some 35
individuals made donations in response to CPJ's fundraising campaign led by
In addition to doctors Wiss, Sherman, and Lowenberg, who have given so much of their time, and the California Pacific Medical Center's commitment, it took a team of lawyers led by attorney Christopher Nugent working pro bono at Holland & Knight to successfully apply for Jehad's humanitarian parole, a status that has allowed him to enter the U.S. for his treatment. Bay Area firm Morrison & Foerster LLP assisted Jehad with extending his stay, also for no fee.
Journalists Salim Hassan, Alaa Majeed, and several other Iraqis now living in the U.S. have done everything from translate for Jehad--who does not speak English--at his medical appointments, to calling his family for him to update them on his condition when he was still under anesthesia, to making home-cooked meals.
Today, Jehad is resting following the first operation, which took place on January 15.