Libya Teenage Grenade Victim Returns Home After UK Surgery Saves His Leg

11:26pm UK, Thursday December 01, 2011

Ashish Joshi, Sky News correspondent

Abdul Elhamdi is to return to Libya on Friday after two months of successful surgeries that have saved his leg.

The 15-year-old schoolboy was flown to England for urgent medical treatment after he and his friend Wadir discovered a stash of weapons in their school.

One of the grenades the boys found exploded. Despite extensive hospital treatment Wadir died.

Abdul’s plight moved Sky News viewers to raise funds for him to be flown to Britain for treatment – the Libyan authorities paid for his surgery.

Abdul has spent almost two months in England and is now desperate to go home.

“I miss my mum, my family and most of all my friends. I want to go home,” he said.

His father Rashid said his son has trouble sleeping at night: “He’s still having nightmares.”

Abdul Elhamdi sick in hospital

Abdul in hospital shortly after the grenade explosion which killed his friend

Abdul has had four operations and is now walking unaided. But his rehabilitation is only just beginning.

“The doctors think that it will be at least one or one and a half years before he returns to normal,” explained Rashid.

Abdul was the first of 50 Libyan war victims flown to Britain for treatment following the revolution that saw the removal of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

His plastic surgeon, Shehan Hettiaratchy, told Sky News he was very pleased with Abdul’s recovery so far.

“He’s doing very well,” he said, “He’s walking with a little foot aid but basically he’s getting back to where he was before the injury – a normal 15-year-old lad.

Abdul Elhamdi walking again

Abdul pictured learning to walk again after months of operations in the UK

“The main problem when he came to us was that his wounds were becoming infected and he was in danger of becoming unwell.

“So the first aim was to get control of that infection and then removing bits of shrapnel from his body and getting his wounds to heal.

“We did a bit of skin grafting and then rehabilitation to get him walking again,” he added.

Abdul will return to a new Libya but he is keen to begin his life exactly where he left it.

“I want to go back to school, to see my friends. I like playing football,” the youngster said.

He added that he was “bored of fish and chips, liked bulldogs and wanted to take a motorbike back to Tripoli”.

His father said his son wanted to thank everyone who had helped to raise funds for the treatment and especially the medical staff who had helped his son to walk again.

Ali El-Ehmer

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