What started off as a journalist’s documentary, resulted in the arrival of 15 year-old Iraqi, Hannan Shihab, Tuesday at the University Hospital’s Trauma Burn Center.

Shihab was burned during the war when explosions near her home caused a lantern to fall off a shelf and burn her clothing. She has been unable to get care in Baghdad because of the state of destruction that Iraq is in, the University’ Hospital Spokesperson Kirsta Hopson said.

“Her parents found two U.S. Military soldiers that were able to get her first-aide and take her to a Baghdad Hospital,” Hopson said.

Mike Rogers, the British ITV journalist who covered her story, said there were three hospitals left working but even they were broken down. She couldn’t get the care she needed in Baghdad. And since her bandages could not been cleaned in days and her situation was worsening, her parents began appealing to American soldiers for help.

“But they (the soldiers) were not in the position to do much. They did take her into the Palestine hotel and re-bandaged her wounds. It was clear to the troops that they didn’t have a vehicle to take her to the hospital,” Rogers said.

Rogers said he was also staying at the Palestine Hotel, which housed foreign journalists and different government officials. Because his crew had a car and they knew they could transport her to the hospital.

“So we did what anyone would do under the circumstances. We took her to the medical city in the district of Baghdad,” Rogers said.

Rogers said the hospital in the district used to have a facility on par with the University’s Hospital. However, looting had destroyed most of the facilities and the hospital staff had run away.

“The hospital did what they could but they didn’t have the basic things to help her, it was at that point where I became emotionally involved. I had taken her there and she cried and begged me not to leave. She knew the best way to get help was through us,” Rogers said.

“There was nowhere else to take her. I filed my story that night (on her and her medical needs) and it was shown on CNN the following day (April 29). I left her at the Baghdad hospital – there was nothing else to be done,” Rogers added.

But it was at this same time that Michigan resident James Thornberry was watching the story.

“I saw the TV story Tuesday night, I was moved by the nature of Hannan’s injuries and the desperate nature of the situation there, also by the parents’ frustration and hopelessness in not being able to provide the kind of care for their daughter they would like,” Thornberry said.

Hopson said Thornberry contacted the University Hospital’s Trauma Burn Center and his congressman. Between both the University Hospital’s and Thornberry’s efforts and the help of Northwest Airlines, they were eventually able to bring Shihab, accompanied by her mother and an Arabic interpreter, to Ann Arbor Tuesday aboard the Survival Flight Ground Transportation.

However, Thornberry said there were many complications in the process.

“Last week everything looked like it was falling apart. All of the people and organizations started to despair that it would not happen. There were problems on the Iraqi end,” Thornberry said. “The date of her (original) departure came and went,” she added.

During this time Rogers said they tried to establish contact with her again, and found she had been taken to a second local hospital. She had been given basic remedial treatment but they could not do anything further.

Rogers said one of the key points to getting her out of the country was getting the military’s approval. This was important because there were no civilian flights in Iraq at the moment. To travel around the country was risky.

“They were discussing getting a flight that would leave directly out of Baghdad but the girl had no passport or papers to travel internationally. The state department finally gave her humanitarian parole which means she could come in for humanitarian reasons,” said Rogers.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Brighton), who has been visiting the Middle East, was also able to aide in the process, by revitalizing the stagnant situation. “He went there and did what was necessary to make the effort come to fruition,” said Thornberry.

“Getting her out required a military (action). When Gen. Tommy Franks gave his permission, it happened. They moved by a helicopter to Baghdad, then to Kuwait and the military transported them from Kuwait to Germany where she was transferred to a civilian flight. They did a great job of looking after her,” ITV journalist Rogers added.

Shihab is expected to stay at the University Hospital anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for treatment, Hopson said.

“They said she is in good spirits. Still there were several weeks when she was receiving no care, when only her family was taking care of her wounds. It must have been very difficult and painful,” Hopson said.

But British reporter Mike Rogers said the U.S. should take advantage of the vast opportunity it has to help those people and countries with fewer resources.

“(Shihab) is not the worst case – she hasn’t been orphaned. This is the wealthiest country, if some of the resources could be steered in the direction of other people who need them, it would be a wonderful thing. There is a will here to help them. It might be the first but others might follow.” Rogers said.

“The war has been won but for victory to be complete we need to win over the hearts and minds of the people and show them America does care,” Rogers added.

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