Video: Free medical care for youngest victims

NBC News
By Ron Allen Correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/30/2006 7:38:11 PM ET 2006-06-30T23:38:11

In the afternoon, kids fill a Gaza street, but 4-year-old Issra is too afraid to come outside.

"She always complains her eye hurts," says her mother.

Issra was wounded on the street where she was playing in March, when an Israeli airstrike killed two Palestinian militants in a car. It was retaliation for a suicide attack that had killed 11 Israelis.

Issra and others raced to the hospital. Three children died. Issra, badly wounded, lost an eye.

Steve Sosebee, an American from Ohio, wantedto help the little girl feel like a child again.

"The hardest part of our job is coming across children who need something that you cannot provide them," he says.

Sosebee runs the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, an organization that finds free medical care in the U.S. for the youngest victims of conflict.

His group also gives about 1,000 kids wheelchairs annually, donated by American charities.

All of this started when Sosebee visited the West Bank as a college student almost 20 years ago. He met a young wounded boy who'd lost both legs and arranged to take the child back to Ohio with him, where a doctor had agreed to help.

Since then, some 700 children have followed, and about 25 recently from Iraq, for a wide range of medical procedures to repair broken little bodies.

Children like Issra, who this week was brought to San Jose, Calif., with her mom. Raymond Rendon, an eye specialist, gave Issra a prosthetic eye. It looks, and even moves, like the real thing.

"It will not move 100 percent like the other eye," says Rendon. "It's probably 60 percent of normal."

The eye won't help her see, but Sosebee hopes it helps Issra look at herself differently.

"The fact that she's going to appear more normal, I think she will feel better about herself," he says.

And perhaps she'll smile a bit more often.

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