In late 2007, armed extremists in Fallujah gave Yusra Kadhim and her husband Jamal a choice between divorce and death. A Shi’a Muslim, Yusra had thought little of marrying a Sunni in the years before the war. But now, with Iraq in a state of open sectarian conflict, her happy marriage had suddenly become a crime. Their son Mohammed was born with a deadly but treatable form of spina bifida that confined him to a wheelchair and threatened his life. He needed both his parents. Unwilling to split their family, the couple fled to Jordan with their children.
Once they reached Amman, it became clear that Mohammed’s condition had become an emergency. He was paralyzed from the waist down, and the paralysis was spreading. Doctors in Jordan who evaluated Mohammed told his parents that the boy’s condition would kill him before his next birthday unless it was treated quickly. Worse, the necessary surgery was unavailable in Jordan. Treatment in the United States was Mohammed’s only chance for survival.
IRAP took on Mohammed’s case in order to apply for humanitarian parole, a rare form of immigration relief reserved for cases that are so urgent they are permitted to enter the United States on a temporary basis. The Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation and the House of Peace agreed to sponsor Mohammed and his mother to come to Boston and have the life-saving procedure at Boston Children’s Hospital.
With help from Senators Scott Brown and Paul Kirk, as well as various officials at the US Department of State, IRAP was able to bring Mohammed to Boston for treatment at Children’s Hospital. He received the first of three surgeries on August 30, 2010, which was highly successful. Thanks to the skill and care of doctors and staff at Children’s, and the generosity of numerous individuals and organizations, one family’s courage has been rewarded.