The first Iraqi war victim to be treated in a U.S. hospital was flown to the University of Michigan Health System’s Trauma Burn Center on May 6 – largely due the help of Michigan resident James Thornberry.

Thornberry said after watching a televised documentary on the plight of injured Iraqi victims, a divine inspiration moved him to help Hannan Shihab, a 15-year-old girl who was severely burned during the first days of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I said a little prayer for this little girl and her family. Suddenly, I was inspired to try to help. My thoughts went to the impossibility of the situation. But, I continued to be moved … compelled, really, to make an attempt. I prayed for guidance and power,” Thornberry added in a written statement.

UMHS spokesperson Krista Hopson said Thornberry then contacted the Trauma Burn Center and his congressman. Between their efforts and the help of Northwest Airlines, they were able to bring Shihab, accompanied by her mother and an Arabic Interpretator, aboard the Survival Flight Ground Transportation, UMHS’s helicopter air ambulance.

But that final destination was only reached after what those involved say was an amazing amount of teamwork and patience.

The crisis arose when Shihab was burned during the war after an explosion near her home caused a lantern to fall off a shelf and burn her clothing. She had been unable to get care in Baghdad because of the state of destruction Iraq is in 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.

But ITV journalist Tim Rogers who covered Shihab’s story, said the U.S. should take advantage of the opportunity it has to help people and countries with fewer resources.”(Shihab) is not the worst case … 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 added.

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