Afghan boy reunited with solider who changed his life

May 6, 2011 3:05:13 PM PDT
A six-year old boy from Afghanistan has traveled a long way for a life-changing surgery.

He has a United States soldier to thank for making it happen.

Army Major Glenn Battschinger took an interest in saving Muslam Hagigshah's life and a lot of people in New Jersey were eager to help, donating time and money.

Hagigshah was born with a difficult physical deformity. He was living a sad and miserable life, until Battschinger happened to catch his eye,

Hagigshah was born with his bladder outside his body and a hole in his stomach. He had no bladder control and was constantly wet.

"This child was skinny, filthy and couldn't walk. The look in his mother's eyes was calling out for help," said Major Battschinger.

He enlisted support from the organization Healing The Children and St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston, and the frail boy had his first very complex surgery a year ago.

"Basically, what we do is rebuild the bladder, reconstruct the gentiallia and make a urethral tube so he can urinate normally," said Hagigshah's surgeon Dr. Moneer Hanna.

Hagigshah has been living with Missy and Stephen Oplinger and their family in Summit, New Jersey. The picture of him now is radically different from the child Missy first saw.

"He couldn't handle anything touching his bladder so he would have one hand here and walked bowlegged, it was just horrific," said Missy.

Exactly the opposite of the beautiful picture now.

Major Battschinger says it goes beyond Hagigshah.

"That story is resonating with his family, extended family back home. This little effort is turning the tide in a small way in a positive way against radicalism," he said.

Hagigshah had another surgery last week and will go home to his caretakers in New Jersey this week. Within six months, he returns to his family in Afghanistan.