Blind Iraqi boy living in Snohomish has 2nd surgery

SEATTLE — Muhammed “Hamoody” Jauda, an Iraqi boy brought here for medical treatment, on Tuesday received his second reconstructive surgery to reduce the disfiguring scars on his face.

“Everything went well,” said Dr. Joseph Gruss at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.

Hamoody, 5, is scheduled to return to his Snohomish home today. As he grows, the blind boy will probably need more surgery to make his face look normal, the doctor said.

It depends on whether he can stay in America. His visa is set to expire in May and can’t be extended, his foster parents, Randy and Julie Robinett Smith, said. The Smiths have opened their Snohomish home to Hamoody since May 2006. They now hope to become his legal guardians to raise the boy.

“We hope he would go to college, get a great job, get married and have a family,” Julie Robinett Smith said. “That’s our goal. There’s no reason he can’t do that.”

Her biggest fear is that he would have to go back to war-torn Iraq. The blind boy will not have much of a chance there, Smith said.

She plans to have an immigration attorney file paperwork on behalf of Hamoody so that the boy can make a case for asylum and stay in Snohomish, Smith said. The process may take a few years, but Hamoody will be able to stay with the Smiths while the petition is pending.

Hamoody was brought from Baghdad to Snohomish by Healing the Children, a Spokane-based international nonprofit group, in 2006 to receive medical treatment.

Rebecca Snyders, executive director of the group’s Oregon and Western chapter, said that the group expects Hamoody will be sent back to Iraq this summer, but it won’t stop the Smiths from trying to keep him in Snohomish.

Julie Robinett Smith said she just wants what’s best for Hamoody and his family.

“We do love his family,” she said. “We love them because of their child.”

Hamoody has come a long way to recover from his injuries.

The Shiite boy was shot in the face by Sunni insurgents in May 2005. His right eye was shot out. His left eye was blinded. The insurgents killed his uncle, shot his mother in the head and spine, and shot his cousin in the leg. Only his sister escaped the attack without injury.

After arriving in Snohomish, Hamoody received a series of checkups and examinations. Doctors determined that he will not regain his sight.

Nonetheless, doctors donated their time giving the boy reconstructive surgery in May 2007. They removed scar tissue from Hamoody’s face and took four inches of his rib to rebuild his right eye socket and nose. The operation aimed to improve the symmetry of his face and ease his breathing.

Hamoody knows he looks different from others, Julie Robinett Smith said. One day, an adult walked up to them and asked what happened to his face.

Hamoody asked Smith: “Why isn’t my face like yours?”

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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