Soldier arranged rare surgery for Afghan boy
A 6-year-old Afghan boy born with his bladder outside his body was reunited Friday with the U.S. soldier who arranged for his rare operation at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J.
Army Maj. Glenn Battschinger of Mays Landing, N.J., was on foot patrol in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in April 2010 when he came across Muslam Hagigshah, a small, frail child who was bowlegged and held his leaking bladder in his hand.
After military doctors and a German medical team were unable to correct the defect Muslam had since birth, Battschinger arranged for an Egyptian-born doctor to perform a series of operations. Muslam was brought to Summit, N.J., where his foster family taught him English and enrolled him in kindergarten.
At a ceremony Friday, a grinning Muslam was wheeled in from the hospital room where he has been recovering from a second surgery performed a week ago. Muslam told reporters — in English — that his favorite sport is lacrosse, which his foster brother has been teaching him.
Hospital officials give credit to the New Jersey branch of Healing the Children, a nonprofit organization that donates medical care to children around the world, and Dr. Moneer Hanna, the pediatric urologist who treated Muslam free of charge.
Hanna expects Muslam to recover and function normally. The abnormality Muslam was born with affects one in 40,000 babies, he said, but occurs more often in the Middle East than in the West.