09 April 2004

HoustonChronicle.com - Iraqi amputees arrive in Houston for treatment:
"Amputees arrive for treatment
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle Medical Writer

Memories of losing his right hand in an Iraqi prison, Qasim Kadim says, are sharpest on very cold nights. The remaining stump feels like a block of ice.

Kadim, a victim of Saddam Hussein's bloody regime, may never have to experience the painful, chilling feeling again. Now in Houston with six other amputees, Kadim will soon receive a $50,000 bionic arm courtesy of several journalists, doctors and hospitals.

The seven Iraqis' right hands were surgically removed, and a crosslike tattoo carved between their eyes, because Saddam blamed businessmen dealing with foreign interests for the country's failing economy.

When together, Kadim and his fellow amputees act much like brothers, having shared a horrible experience. While here, they say, they want to experience everything, from NASA to Houston's museums.

Among his requests, Kadim asked to meet a real cowboy or cowgirl.

On Thursday, he broadly smiled when introduced to Ashley Guest, a 15-year-old high school rodeo champion from Crosby. After shaking her hand, inquiring about the nature of barrel racing, Kadim offered an unexpected comment.

"That," he said, "sounds very dangerous.""