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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Afghan heart surgery toddler dies
Qudratullah and father Hakim Gul Wardak in their refugee camp on 13 April
Qudratullah and his father on their return
An Afghan toddler who underwent heart surgery in the United States has died two days after returning home.

Sixteen-month-old Qudratullah Wardak died in his father's arms at a refugee camp outside the capital, Kabul, on Friday, the US military said.

"Our condolences go out to Qudrat's family... This is a very sad day," US military spokesman Maj Eric Bloom said.

The US military helped send Qudratullah for treatment. He had returned to an ecstatic reception on Wednesday.

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"So many people, literally from around the world, came together to help this young Afghan boy," Maj Bloom told reporters in Kabul.

A US military doctor spotted Qudratullah's condition last September. Rotary Club members helped cover the estimated $100,000 cost of the operation.

'Loss'

US troops escorted the toddler and his father home on Wednesday, to the applause of more than 100 fellow refugees in the camp where they lived.

He still had glitter in his hair, from the big party they had for him - he looked very peaceful
US army medic Capt Michael Roscoe

Qudratullah looked well after receiving treatment for multiple heart defects at a children's hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.

But early on Friday, an uncle and neighbour arrived at the US military's nearby Camp Phoenix to tell soldiers he had died.

Capt Michael Roscoe and two other US army medics were sent to the camp and found the toddler's body lying under a blanket outside the family tent.

"He still had glitter in his hair, from the big party they had for him," Capt Roscoe told reporters. "He looked very peaceful."

He said the cause of death was unknown but it was assumed the boy's repaired heart had given out.

A visibly moved Capt Roscoe said many soldiers were deeply upset, as were nine reporters from Indiana who travelled back with Qudratullah to Afghanistan.

"It's like the loss of our own child," he said.


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