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Last Updated: Monday, 11 August, 2003, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Iraqi boys talk of new limbs hope
Ahmed Mohammed Hamza and Ali Abbas
Mohammed and Ali thanked the British people for their welcome
Iraqi teenager Ali Abbas has told how he is looking forward to receiving new limbs.

Ali, 13, lost both his arms in a coalition attack on Baghdad early in the Gulf War in which his parents and many members of his family died.

He has come to a specialist centre in London to have artificial limbs fitted along with 14-year-old Ahmed Mohammed Hamza who lost his left leg and right hand.

They have both received their first assessment from staff at Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton, south west London.

We would aim to fit them with the most sophisticated limbs available
Dr Sellaiah Sooriakumaran, Queen Mary's Hospital

Speaking through a translator, Ali told a news conference in London on Monday: "I look forward to getting my prosthetic limbs as soon as possible, and very quickly.

"I'm also looking forward to continuing to study in this country."

Ali thanked the British people for their support.

He added he wished his family was there to support him through his rehabilitation.

Mohammed said: "I am very enthusiastic to have my limbs fitted as soon as possible."

Time

One of the specialists set to treat Ali has said that after the rehabilitation he will be able to "live the life he wants".

At first Ali was given only a 50% chance of survival, but he has responded well to treatment, including three months of plastic surgery in Kuwait.

Ali and uncle Abed

He and Mohammed landed in a private jet at RAF Northolt in west London on Thursday.

Dr Selliah Sooriakumaran, a rehabilitation specialist who is leading Ali and Mohammed's care in Britain, told the BBC: "The boys are ready to take up intensive rehabilitation.

"We would aim to fit them with the most sophisticated limbs available and train them to acquire the best possible skills and I expect they will attain a high level of independence."

The Limbless Association, which runs the hospital's rehabilitation centre, has raised more than 275,000 towards the cost of the boys' care and treatment.

Spotlight

Ali was taken to Kuwait following the missile strike which killed his parents, brother and 13 other relations.

Kuwait's health minister, Mohammed al-Jarrallah, accompanied the two boys and their relatives to the airport and said their initial visit was expected to last three months.

"As far as we are concerned, we are committed to treating them until they are fully grown," he said.

Shadow international development secretary Caroline Spelman said she was "delighted" Ali Abbas and Ahmed Mohammed Hamza are coming to the UK for treatment.

But she added: "Whilst the spotlight is currently on Ali, we shouldn't forget the Iraqi people with similar injuries but without access to the same world class treatment that Ali is about to receive."


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Helen Simms
"Ali and Ahmed can't wait for the work to begin"



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