ATLANTA, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- After being rescued by soldiers of the
Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Brigade during a home raid in Baghdad in
early December, 3-month-old Iraqi "Baby Noor" was flown to Children's
Healthcare of Atlanta to receive life-saving surgery. Baby Noor was born with
spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal column fails to completely
close. She is being treated by Roger Hudgins, M.D., chief of neurosurgery at
Children's. Dr. Hudgins will be assisted by Fernando Burstein, M.D., Medical
Director of the Center for Craniofacial Disorders at Children's. Children's
and the surgeons have offered to perform the delicate operation at no cost.
Baby Noor's Discovery
As the Iraqi family nervously watched the soldiers search their home, the
baby's grandmother brought to the soldiers' attention a purple pouch
protruding from the infant's back. Iraqi doctors had told Noor's parents she
would live only 45 days without corrective surgery. The members of the 48th
Brigade vowed to do whatever it took to bring the little girl to the U.S. for
the medical care she so desperately needed.
On the soldiers' newly adopted "mission" to save Baby Noor, they
dispatched their pleas to numerous contacts in the U.S., including the office
of Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). Chambliss' office then contacted Children's,
which immediately agreed to donate its services to Baby Noor. In the meantime,
Childspring International, an Atlanta-based organization that seeks medical
care for children worldwide, worked with Sen. Chambliss and contacts stateside
and abroad to arrange for necessary paperwork to bring Noor and her family to
Atlanta. The organization also identified a host family to house Noor's family
while she was being treated at Children's and responded to the community's
offers of support.
"It is an honor for me to help this child who means so much to our Army
National Guard," Hudgins said. "After all, these are the brave men and women
who risk their lives daily to serve our country. I feel privileged to play
whatever role I can in helping them and this child."
During the surgery, Hudgins plans to place the spinal cord down the center
of Noor's back and cover it with muscle and tissue. Dr. Hudgins has requested
the assistance of craniofacial surgeon, Dr. Fernando Burstein, a plastic
surgeon with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of skeletal
abnormalities of the skull and facial bones. Dr. Burstein will help ensure
that Baby Noor not only feels normal after surgery, but that the skin on her
back heals properly following surgery.
"I am honored to have the opportunity to play a role in Baby Noor's
surgery and will strive to ensure that she will be as normal as possible, have
a smooth recovery and enjoy a healthy childhood," Burstein said.
What Is Spina Bifida?
Spina bifida is a birth defect in which the bones of the spine (vertebrae)
do not form properly around the spinal cord. This can occur anywhere along the
spine. Spina bifida is the most common of a group of birth defects called
neural tube defects.
Spina bifida develops in a fetus early in pregnancy, often before a woman
knows she is pregnant. In the United States, about 1 in every 2,000 children
is born with spina bifida. It is one of the most common birth defects,
although the rates have declined steadily in recent years.
There are two main types of spina bifida: spina bifida occulta and spina
Spina bifida occulta is the milder form. The spinal defect is hidden under
the skin and does not usually cause problems or need treatment. Doctors
estimate that 10 to 24 percent of the general population unknowingly have this
spinal defect. In some cases, a dimple, depression, birthmark or hairy patch
forms over the skin where more than one vertebrae is affected. This is
referred to as occult spinal dysraphism (OSD).
Spina bifida aperta is the more severe form of this birth defect. It often
is associated with nerve damage that can result in problems with walking,
bladder control and coordination. It can be separated into two classes,
meningocele and myelomeningocele.
* In meningocele, fluid leaks out of the spinal canal, causing a swollen
area over the baby's spine.
* In myelomeningocele, a segment of the
spinal nerves pushes out of the spinal canal against the underside of
the skin. The nerves are often damaged. In the worst cases, the skin is
open and the nerves are exposed to the outside of the body.
Baby Noor has been diagnosed with myelomeningocele (spina bifida aperta)
and is tentatively scheduled for surgery on Monday, January 9. Children's
Healthcare of Atlanta will not have any further information or updates until
Baby Noor is readmitted to Children's. Until that time, any questions
regarding Baby Noor, her family or the host family should be directed to Helen
Shepard of Childspring International at 404-228-7744 or
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the leading pediatric healthcare
systems in the country, is a not-for-profit organization that benefits from
the generous philanthropic and volunteer support of our community. With 430
licensed beds in two hospitals and more than 450,000 annual patient visits,
Children's is nationally recognized for excellence in cancer, cardiac,
neonatal, orthopaedic and transplant care, as well as in many other pediatric
specialties. Child magazine ranks Children's as one of the top 10 children's
hospitals nationwide and Children's is among U.S. News & World Report's top
pediatric hospitals. To learn more about Children's Healthcare of Atlanta,
visit http://www.choa.org or call 404-250-KIDS.
Childspring International, a faith-based, non-profit organization, aims to
give children around the world expert medical care and opportunities for a
better life. Based in Atlanta, Childspring has provided treatment to hundreds
of children in more than 20 states across the U.S. and in more than 38
countries worldwide. The non-profit organization relies on monetary and in-
kind donations to provide children with the best help possible. To get
involved or to find out more about Childspring International please visit
http://www.childspringintl.org or call 404.228.7744.
Provided by Newswise, online resource for knowledge-based news at
SOURCE Children's Healthcare of Atlanta