MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A 5-year-old boy was not expected to survive his injuries from a roadside bomb in Iraq as an infant, but now, he is very much alive and has been formally adopted by his uncle at a special ceremony on Long Island.
As CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported, Dean Khazaal, whose name at birth was Zeenabdeen Hadi, loves to play with trucks and is always excited to share what he is learning in school.
Dean is active and mischievous now, but he has physical and emotional scars. He was seriously wounded by an improvised explosive device about four years ago, when he was just 11 months old.
Dean’s uncle, Hasan Khazaal — just 18 at the time – helped save his infant nephew’s life that day.
“The moment when the accident happened, when I did to him CPS and his whole flesh came off on my mouth, that’s the moment, the beautiful moment, that make me — don’t leave him alone,” Hasan Khazaal said. “He’s really in my heart”
With the help of several international organizations, Dean was brought to the United States by his uncle, for surgery after doctors in Iraq gave the boy no hope of recovery.
Hasan Khazaal refused to believe it.
“I sacrificed my life to save him,” he said. “I did everything for him.”
Khazaal reached out to international aid groups, his desperation convincing enough to get Dean the medical care he needed.
But he knew the best was in America.
“I told him, ‘I will take you to the country that will fix you and respect you, and I have a dream — one day I will come to America,” he said.
Dean’s face was severely disfigured in the bombing. But now, four years and 36 surgeries later, doctors said Dean will survive and even thrive.
He has recently undergone his ninth surgery at Long Island Jewish Hospital and doctors said his prognosis is promising.
But he has a long road ahead of him, including surgeries.
Khazaal once dared to dream his nephew would just live. Now, he dreams of the life they’ll have as father and son, happy and above all healthy.
“Right now, he’s in school. I’m trying to make him — I’m working right now; I’m trying to make him money so when he goes to college, he don’t have to worry, because I will do everything for him,” Khazaal said.
Khazaal said they are very grateful for the help they’ve received.
“All my dreams have come true, it’s my gift from God,” said Khazaal. “It’s a very special day in my life.”
The boy and his uncle had been granted political asylum in the U.S. and have settled in Floral Park where Hadi is enrolled in school. Khazaal has also gotten a job at an auto shop.
Hadi was officially adopted by his uncle Wednesday in a ceremony in Nassau County Surrogate’s Court in Mineola.
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