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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Pray for 10-year-old Oran Almog

Doctors hopeful after operation on terror victim's eye

from Arutz Sheva:
Ten-year-old Oran Almog, who was blinded in the Palestinian terrorist massacre in the Maxim Restaurant in Haifa three weeks ago, underwent surgery in Alabama yesterday, and doctors are hopeful that they were able to restore some of his vision.

Oran was dining with his extended family in the Haifa restaurant when a female Palestinian terrorist walked in and detonated the explosive vest with which she had been equipped. The ensuing explosion killed 21 people, including Oran's father, grandparents, brother, and cousin. Oran's mother and 4-year-old sister were also wounded, and Oran lost his left eye and vision in his right eye.

After doctors in Israel decided they could not perform the surgery necessary to save his sight, a search was undertaken for doctors who could. Oran was finally brought to Alabama to be treated by a team led by Dr. Robert Morris, associate professor of ophthalmology at University of Alabama, with a reputation as an expert in repairing eyes damaged by traumatic injuries.

Before the surgery, Dr. Morris said, "I saw a picture of Oran before the injury, a good-looking boy, and I hope we can save his eye." He said that the Israeli doctors had done a good job in stabilizing the wound, and that he hoped to find nerve tissue in the retina that could be rehabilitated.

After the eight-hour operation, the doctors said that they were in fact able to remove blood clots and scar tissue, untwist the retina and reattach it, restore pressure in the eye, and perform a corneal transplant to complete the reconstruction. "There is still a long recovery road ahead, but there is certainly a reasonable chance of useful vision," Dr. Morris said. Dr. Bob Phillips sounded less optimistic: "We don't think he's going to have perfect central vision, but we hope it would be good enough for him to get around and see shapes and forms," he told The Associated Press from the operating suite.

Oran arrived in Birmingham on Sunday accompanied by his maternal grandparents, and an Israeli consular official in Atlanta said that members of Birmingham's Jewish community had adopted the family with much "Southern hospitality."

Health Minister Danny Naveh announced earlier this week that the Israeli government would pay for the treatment. In general, the government pays for all medical treatment related to terrorist injuries - including that which must be performed abroad because the relevant experts have determined that it cannot be carried out in Israel. Meir Indor of the Terrorist Victim Association welcomed Naveh's announcement, saying that it "nipped in the bud all sorts of unnecessary free-lance fund-raising campaigns."

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