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    Custom-made bed helps Afghan family cope

    Custom-made bed helps Afghan family cope

    Photo By Master Sgt. Ryan Crane | Afghan citizen Noor Ahmad displays a laminated photo of his son, Samir, July 20. The...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane  

    Provincial Reconstruction Team Laghman

    LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - A local father rejoiced with overwhelming emotion and relief when members of the Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team presented him with a custom-made bed for his special-needs son.

    Noor Ahmad is the father of Samir Ahmad, 3, who was involved in a life-changing accident in May 2010. Like most Afghan children, Samir was playing near his home in the city of Mehtar Lam, the capital of Laghman province. He ventured too close to the busy street and too far away from his family to react as a U.S. convoy moved through the city.

    The driver of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle could not see the boy as his vehicle struck the child.

    Samir lay on the road motionless. Medics from the convoy rushed to the child and found that he was miraculously still alive. They evacuated him to nearby Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam. Because his injuries were too serious for local treatment, medical personnel evacuated him to Bagram Air Field where a team of medical professionals worked for hours to save Samir’s life.

    It is more than a year later, and Samir’s injuries have changed his life. He has been diagnosed with a form of neurological paralysis, which causes sudden, uncontrollable body movements.

    Ahmad still brings his son to the base weekly so the medics can clean the child’s feeding tube and check on his condition. He needs constant supervision and care, especially at night when those sudden movements have caused him to fall out of his bed.

    During a recent treatment visit to the medics at FOB Mehtar Lam, Ahmed relayed the story of how his son falls out of bed during his sleep.

    Capt. Deana Porter from Auburn, Ga., physician assistant and medical officer for Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team, recognized the need for a larger bed with rails and more padding due to Samir’s condition. She turned to U.S. Air Force Senior Airman John Fitzgerald, medical technician, to discuss the possibilities of building a new bed for Samir.

    He took charge of the project and met with the local carpenter in charge of maintaining the facilities for FOB Mehtar Lam, known only by his first name, Igor. Together, Fitzgerald and Igor designed and built a new bed specifically for Samir.

    The six-foot bed with padded rails will protect Samir, prevent him from falling and is large enough to accommodate him for many years to come.

    “I got with the contractors, gathered the wood, tools and hardware and, together, we built the child a bed that will keep him safe and last a long, long time,” said Fitzgerald.

    Since the child is essentially bedridden, explained Fitzgerald, the new bed will provide him a safe place and allow his parents to rest peacefully, knowing their son won’t fall out of bed in the middle of the night.

    Medics presented the bed to Ahmad July 20, which, coincidentally, was Samir’s third birthday. When he laid eyes on it, Ahmad’s face brightened and his infectious smile brought a mixture of smiles and tears to the medical staff.

    Ahmad also managed to muster two simple words in plain English, “Thank you.”

    He said it over and over as he pulled out a laminated photo of his son to show off to everyone.

    “We just wanted to help mend a wrong,” said Fitzgerald. “We can’t change what happened, nor can anyone be blamed for that terrible accident, but we can offer everything we have to make life a little better for Samir and his family.”

    The medics carried the bed out to the front gate and helped Ahmad load it into his transport truck to take it home with him. Ahmad never stopped smiling.



    Date Taken: 07.30.2011
    Date Posted: 07.30.2011 04:02
    Story ID: 74551
    Location: MEHTAR LAM, AF 

    Web Views: 162
    Downloads: 0