POLITICS
03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sick Iraqi Child Wins Strong Marines Friends

At his home just off Sheik Said Road, Ala Thabit Fattah waits for word from America about whether doctors can save his 2-year-old daughter, Amenah.

Iraqi doctors had known since she was only a few weeks old that Amenah had an oxygen deficiency problem in her heart that probably would prove fatal before she reached school-age. But her doctor told Fattah that the only surgeons he knew who could save Amenah had fled Iraq in the turmoil since the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Fattah and his wife were resigned that the youngest of their four children would not be with them long. The slightest exertion tired her, her lips and fingers turning bright blue. "The doctor said even his own sister's child has the same problem and there is nothing that can be done," Fattah, 37, who works at the local water department, said Tuesday.

Then Marines with the 3rd Battalion, 23rd Regiment, a reservist unit attached to Camp Pendleton-based Regimental Combat Team 5, stopped by the Fattah home during a routine patrol. The squad leader, Sgt. Bryan Velazques, thought that Amenah must have been eating blue candy. He was shocked when her parents said she always turned blue.

"I thought she was the cutest little girl I'd ever seen and that she deserved a chance to live," Velazques said.

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