Iraqi boy should regain use of eye

Kyodo

A 10-year-old boy brought to Japan from Iraq for treatment of an eye injured in the war is expected to make a full recovery, his doctor said Saturday.

“We think we can recover his eyesight through surgery,” Tetsuo Hida, a professor at Tokyo-based Kyorin University, said at a news conference at the hospital in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture, where the boy is being treated.

He suggested that the boy, Mohamad Haytham Saleh, will undergo surgery within the next couple of weeks.

A clouded, thin web on the lens on his left eye has caused near blindness, but an operation to cut through the web will enable the boy to recover his eyesight, Hida said.

“I am glad to hear that,” Mohamad said at the same news conference. “It is due to Mr. Hashida and Mr. Ogawa. Thank you very much.”

He was referring to two slain freelance journalists who had wanted to help him receive medical care for the injured eye.

Shinsuke Hashida, 61, and his nephew, Kotaro Ogawa, 33, had arranged Mohamad’s trip to Japan before they were killed in an ambush in Iraq late last month.

Mohamad and his father, Haytham, 33, arrived in Japan on Friday and the boy underwent his first medical check that afternoon.

He sustained the injury during a U.S. military operation in November in Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

At the news conference, his father expressed gratitude for the aid his son has received. “I was told in Iraq that (Mohamad) may totally lose his (left) eyesight,” he said. “I would like to thank all the people in Japan who offered to help.”

Asked about his impression of Japan, Mohamad said: “I was surprised to see the ocean for the first time in my life, and at the beauty of Mount Fuji.”