California doctors operate on badly injured Kosovo teen
Doctors at St. Francis Medical Center in Santa Barbara began to heal the wounds of Besart, top, and Lulietu Ahmetaj on Monday
|CNN's Greg LaMotte reports on the brother and sister and their prospects for recovery|
Brother undergoes eye surgery Tuesday
July 5, 1999
Web posted at: 9:28 p.m. EDT (0128 GMT)
SANTA BARBARA, California (CNN) -- With shattered bones and severely injured faces, Besart Ahmetaj and his sister Lulietu left their native Kosovo last week for medical treatment in the United States by doctors touched by their story.
On Monday, physicians at St. Francis Medical Center in Santa Barbara began the tedious task of healing those wounds. Lulietu, 19, underwent surgery to remove infected portions of bone in her right leg, which was fractured by shrapnel.
"We got down to good bleeding bone. Hopefully the next time we go, the tissue will still be viable and we'll be able to bone graft into this area again," said Dr. Jeff Holstein, an orthopedic surgeon.
Lulietu also needs extensive surgery to repair wounds to her face and right eye. Dr. Michael Paveloff, an eye surgeon, will try to assess if her eyesight can be restored.
"I'm more optimistic for her then I am for her brother," he told CNN on Friday.
Besart and Lulietu were maimed May 14 when a NATO bomb exploded in the town of Korisa, killing dozens of ethnic Albanians, including their mother and two other families.
Besart's right eye was nearly destroyed in the attack. The 12-year-old is scheduled to undergo exploratory surgery on Tuesday.
Other doctors -- specialists in infectious diseases and child psychology -- are also part of the extensive team providing free care to the siblings.
Besart has been particularly traumatized by the ordeal. Despite the use of sedatives, the upset boy squirmed so much during his initial physical exam that doctors could not determine the full extent of his injuries.
Besart still asks to see his mother, but no one has had the courage to tell him she is dead.
"The young boy is so traumatized, he has absolutely no clue what's going on, and I don't know where to begin to tell him what's going on," Padilla said Friday.
Correspondents Greg LaMotte and Jennifer Auther contributed to this report.
Repairing the human damage of war
July 3, 1999
Bomb left Kosovo siblings with more than physical injuries
July 2, 1999
Kosovar brother, sister injured in NATO bombing arrive in U.S. for treatment
July 1, 1999
Badly injured Kosovo siblings en route to California for surgery
July 1, 1999
NATO bombing victims head to U.S. for treatment
June 30, 1999
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