ATLANTA - It’s been several years since metro Atlantans first learned the story of a disabled Iraqi baby who Georgia soldiers rescued.
They got baby Noor back to Atlanta for surgery to correct a birth defect. Now, seven years later, some of those who cared for Noor are getting their first look at her life in Iraq. Channel 2’s Diana Davis spoke to them Friday.
Georgia National Guard’s 48th Brigade was on a raid to find insurgents when the soldiers discovered three-month-old baby girl Noor. Born with spina bifida open spine, she was badly disfigured.
“It was shocking. I mean, it was like, when your child falls down and gets hurt and cries for you. (You) have that panicked feeling. I didn’t know what to do. I had no clue,” said SFC Michael Somen said.
He said Noor’s father and grandmother begged the soldier’s for help.
“Just the look in her eyes, you had to do something,” Somen said.
He said he thought of his own daughter back home.
In just over two weeks, the guard, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, several charity groups and others got Noor to Atlanta for surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Noor, her father and grandmother lived temporarily with Nancy Taylor, a volunteer for the charitable group Childspring International. Taylor saw Noor through multiple surgeries.
“She was good baby, a happy baby, and obviously loved by her grandmother and father who brought her here,” Taylor said.
Children’s Healthcare doctors closed Noor’s spine and performed other corrective surgeries. They told Noor’s family she would never walk, but they did save her life.
Doctors said she would have died in Iraq, where that kind of care was unavailable. After five months of treatment in Atlanta, Noor returned to Iraq. Taylor escorted her to Kuwait, where her family was waiting.
“It was extremely hard. Noor cried. Her grandmother cried, and I cried,” said Taylor.
Now, on the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Atlanta reporter embedded with the Georgia guard when they found Noor traveled back to Iraq to check on her.
Noor remains in a wheelchair, lives with her father and grandfather and is enrolled at an Iraqi school for disabled children. New video offers the first glimpse Taylor and Sgt. Somen have had of Noor since she left Atlanta nearly seven years ago. Though Taylor celebrates Noor’s survival, she worries about her well-being.
“Am I anxious for what the future holds for her? Yes. She touched my heart, but I also give thanks her family continues to care for her and love her,” Taylor said.
At age 7 and with many continuing special needs, Noor faces more difficulties living in Iraq than many believe she would have had in the United States.
Taylor and Somen said they have never forgotten Noor and hope she and her family will always know and remember how some Americans tried to help a tiny girl in need.
“It’s going to be a difficult life for her, and I pray for her all the time,” said Somen.