File photo of Iraqi baby Noor being carried to waiting ambulance after arriving in Atlanta
Tami Chappell  /  Reuters file
Noor al-Zahra, the Iraqi baby who was born with spina bifida, is carried to a waiting ambulance at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by her grandmother after their arrival in Atlanta on Dec. 31, 2005. She underwent surgery to drain fluid from her skull on Friday.
updated 3/10/2006 6:14:11 PM ET 2006-03-10T23:14:11

An Iraqi infant brought to the United States to be treated for severe birth defects underwent surgery Friday to drain fluid in her skull, doctors said.

The tube that was inserted in Noor al-Zahra’s skull was needed to prevent permanent brain injury, officials at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said. The buildup is beneath the outer membrane that covers the brain, and not in the brain itself. The tube will allow the fluid to flow to her abdomen, where it will be absorbed.

The procedure was successful, according to her physician, Dr. Roger Hudgins.

Doctors say Noor, now 5½ months old, is likely to remain paraplegic but otherwise healthy.

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The Iraqi infant was brought to a U.S. hospital at the urging of the American troops who found her. They were raiding a home in Abu Ghraib, a poverty-stricken district west of Baghdad, in December when they found Noor al-Zahra and noticed paralysis in her legs and what appeared to be a tumor on her back.

It turned out to be spina bifida, a condition in which the backbone and spinal cord do not close after birth.

The condition paralyzed her legs and caused other problems, including a foot deformity.

She had surgery at the Atlanta hospital Jan. 9 to reposition her spinal cord, and has had other minor procedures to remove fluid buildup in her back and to correct a foot deformity.

Last month, she also had an orthopedic surgery to loosen shortened tendons and tightened ligaments in her left ankle that had forced her toes and heel to point downward in a ballerina position.

The baby, her father and grandmother are staying with an Atlanta-area family while she recovers.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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