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Coalition forces working to help sick Iraqi girl
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FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq - As Coalition Forces work to rebuild Iraq, they are taking the time to help one little girl in desperate need of care.
Six-year-old Sharook Shikir lives in Adwaniyah, south of Baghdad. She was born with a blood disorder called beta thalassemia major, a life-threatening version of anemia. Sharook's disease causes low red blood cell count and stunted growth.
While no 100 percent cure exists, a bone marrow transplant would increase her chances of living a longer life, said Maj. Christopher Warner, Multi-National Division - Center deputy division surgeon.
In the interim, Sharook and her parents travel to Baghdad every 15 days for a blood transfusion, which temporarily combats the effects of the disorder.
Without a bone marrow transplant, it is unlikely that Sharook will live past the age of 20.
Coalition Forces are trying to help Sharook get the treatment she needs.
The first step toward a transplant is finding a bone marrow donor. Since Sharook doesn't have any siblings, finding a match is more difficult. If she were in the United States the chances of finding a donor would be one in 20,000, Warner said.
Medical personnel from the 3rd Infantry Division and its 2nd Brigade Combat Team worked to find a hospital able to conduct part of the donor screening; not all hospitals are equipped for the complex screening process.
The al-Mansoor Children's Hospital in Baghdad was to begin the first part of donor screening this week. Sharook's family members with the same blood type, O positive, will travel to the hospital to be tested for possible bone marrow matches, said Capt. Terrance Montgomery, 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. medical operations and plans officer in charge.
However, al-Mansoor is not able to do the second phase of the screening so another hospital must be located.
Should a donor be identified, Sharook will be enrolled into the National Iraqi Activities Center, which will work to find sponsorship and funding for the transplant.
Third Infantry Division medical personnel stressed chances of finding a donor are slim and the process could take months. Nonetheless, Coalition Forces continue to seek care for Sharook.
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