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Utahn delights in help for baby

U.S. surgeon to remove tumor on young Iraqi

Paul Holton was overjoyed about the good he and his organization have done for a tiny Iraqi baby. "It's been miraculous how so many things have come together," he said.

Holton is the Salt Lake member of the Utah National Guard who gained renown as Chief Wiggles, both for his vivid Internet postings when he was stationed in Iraq and for his work with Operation Give, which helps people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The latest project to capture the attention of Operation Give and Holton was the rescue of an Iraqi girl who benefactors are calling "Baby Tabby." She has developed serious facial deformities that were interfering with her ability to eat. The condition is "cavernous hemangioma," a tumor that grows swiftly.

Her father went to the gates of Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad with the 9-month-old girl, where he begged the guards for help. Kindly guards brought her to physicians who found an Iraqi doctor with the Iraq Ministry of Health.

That doctor also works with Operation Give. She could not do much to help the baby medically, but she telephoned Holton, a FedEx sales manager, who wrote about Tabby's needs on his Web log, chiefwiggles.com.

A doctor in South Carolina who heads a foundation dedicated to treating those with hemangioma volunteered to treat Tabby at his expense.

Others donated more than 300,000 frequent-flier miles to fly her to South Carolina. Many obstacles remained, such as obtaining a visa for the child.

The office of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, contacted the American embassy in Amman, Jordan, to help with the visas. The office of Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., also joined the effort.

Visas became available for the baby and her father who will be flying to Charleston, S.C., for the operation tonight.

In addition, a hotel in Charleston will provide a room for them to stay during Baby Tabby's recuperation.

"It's just been incredible," Holton said. Many wonderful people have helped with ideas and connections, he said in a telephone interview.

In a release, Holton added, "Perhaps Tabby's father realized that perhaps it is Allah's will for her life to be saved by the same nation that rescued his countrymen. . . . Her journey will be both emotionally and physically painful.

"But the courage, faith, trust and love of one man for his daughter has brought out the best in those who serve our country. And it has radiated and touched others worldwide."

Baby Tabby apparently also has a congenital heart condition, he said.

"So now we're going to have to find a cardiac pediatrician specialist," he said. The physician will need to do the operation free "because we don't have the money to pay a surgeon to operate on this child," he said.

Anyone who would like to donate assistance for Baby Tabby can call Holton at 801-259-6336.


E-mail: bau@desnews.com