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News and Views


 

Everyday Heroes in Today’s Afghanistan

Each day, men and women from the United States and Afghanistan are meeting throughout Afghanistan, from the markets of Kabul to the homes of tribal elders in the northern, southern, eastern and western corners of the country. They come from different backgrounds and different cultures, but what unites them is their shared dream of a prosperous, secure, pluralistic, free Afghanistan. The Embassy will periodically highlight their work in this section of the website. 

Thanks to the generosity and friendship of a family in North Carolina, 15 year old Zaman Rashid will be able to live his life without the constraints of a serious medical condition. Zaman traveled thousands of miles from Farah province to obtain treatment for a benign tumor in his head called an angiofibromo. A substantial operation was required to remove a mass of inflamed blood vessels. The condition causes intense headaches and restricts breathing and speech. Zaman had three previous operations in Pakistan, but the doctors were unable to completely remove the tumor.

Dr. Ralph McKay, an anesthesiologist from North Carolina, his wife, Carol, and son, Chris, who is also 15, volunteered to be Zaman’s host family, providing food, shelter and friendship to Zaman during his surgery. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Ambassador Said T. Jawad helped the family cut through some of the red tape necessary to perform the complicated procedure.

This month, the surgery was preformed at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Zaman's surgeon was J. Dale Browne, M.D., professor of otolaryngology and one of the nation's leading experts in using the temporalis muscle to rebuild the palate following tumor resection. "I was pleased to be able to help this young man and feel he should recover fully and lead a normal life. Zaman has a wonderful attitude and it was a privelege to meet this young man," said Dr. Browne. The tumor was removed from Zaman’s sinus cavity and a small section of bone was removed to access the tumor location and it was removed successfully.  Zaman’s soft pallet was also repaired with surrounding muscle tissue. Iredell Memorial Hospital also supplied preliminary medical work on Zaman at no charge.

While waiting for the surgery, Zaman learned about the U.S. and had a fun-filled summer of lake activities, soccer, and trips to the ocean. He has enjoyed his stay in North Carolina, but misses his family and his mother’s cooking. After a short recuperation, he will be on his way home. Carol McKay described the learning experience with Zaman and her family. “It was definitely a two-way thing. Zaman learned from us and his experience here, but we also learned from him. We are all certainly better for having done this.”

Also this summer, Dr. Peter H. Grossman, MD of the Grossman Burn Center preformed a major operation on a young Afghan boy named Mahsoom, who had been badly burned and disfigured in Afghanistan. Only 6 years old, Mahsoom suffered from scar tissue so extreme that it caused his lower lip and chin to fuse into his chest. The scar tissue was so tight that his mouth could not close. Speaking, eating and drinking was incredibly painful. Mahsoom spent nearly 6 months in the U.S. and received a number of reconstructive surgeries. In that time, the changes that have occurred with Mahsoom are remarkable, both physically and emotionally. The surgery has given him incredible confidence; he has become very outgoing and affectionate.

Upon Mahsoom’s departure, Dr. Grossman expressed regret at having to say goodbye. “We will miss him very much. The time has come for him to return to his family,” he said. He also thanked a number of individuals and organizations who contributed to Mahsoom’s successful surgery: Laura Mendelson; Child Spring and Christina Porter; Mike Whipple and IOC for their fund raising; Jennifer Donoghue; Jay Berendzen and Afshin Afarin. He reserved a special thank you for Drs. Abdul and Sharifa Asat and their children, who hosted Mahsoom for 6 months and became like a second family.

After the surgery, Ambassador Jawad sent a note of gratitude to Dr. Grossman, “I am struggling to find the right word to say thank you to you and your colleague for the miracle that you have performed,” he wrote.

 

 

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