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Iraqi Boy Returns To Oregon After Losing Contact With Helpers

An Iraqi boy, who traveled to Oregon for life-saving surgery 10 years ago, has returned.

Mustafa Abed, 15,  arrived at Portland International Airport early Tuesday morning, after 40 hours of flights, misplaced luggage and delays.

He came to Oregon for a new prosthetic leg and other medical attention at Shriners Hospital for Children and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Abed's leg was severed near the hip in a U.S. missile strike in Fallujah when he was 2.

Speaking through another Arabic traveler, Abed's mother Nidhal Aswad said they were very happy to be in Oregon.

"She’s so excited to help her son. Yeah, she’s happy,” the interpreter said.

Last time Abed was in Oregon, he became something of a local celebrity. Portland Mayor Tom Potter declared a day of recognition for him, and he was allowed to attend a practice session with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland pediatric nurse Maxine Fookson founded the Portland chapter of to bring Abed to Oregon 10 years ago. She raised more money to bring him this time, with help from the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. The fund provides medical relief for war-injured children from across the Middle East.

Fookson said they had planned to keep bringing Abed back for larger legs as he grew-up, but they lost contact.

His hometown, Fallujah, fell under the control of ISIS in 2014. Mustafa and his family fled the city as the Iraqi forces reclaimed it. They lived in a desert camp nearby with 30,000 other people.

The Abed family came to Fookson's attention again in 2016 after Mustafa was featured in a report on the camp by Jane Arraf in the PBS Newshour.

Since then, Fookson and Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility have raised money to send him medical supplies in Iraq.

<p>A travel weary Mustafa Abed arrives in Portland for medical attention. His leg was severed near the hip in a U.S. missile strike in Fallujah when he was two.</p>

Arya Surowidjojo

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A travel weary Mustafa Abed arrives in Portland for medical attention. His leg was severed near the hip in a U.S. missile strike in Fallujah when he was two.

<p>Mustafa Abed's mother, Nidhal Aswad, hugs pediatric social worker Geri Berg. She helped him last time he was in Portland, 10 years ago.</p>

Arya Surowidjojo

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Mustafa Abed's mother, Nidhal Aswad, hugs pediatric social worker Geri Berg. She helped him last time he was in Portland, 10 years ago.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.