Teenage Syrian airstrike victim set for life-changing spinal surgery

Najib Ali has arrived in London for treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

London (CNN)A teenager who was paralyzed in an airstrike near his home outside the Syrian city of Homs in 2013 has arrived in the UK for life-changing medical treatment.

Najib Ali, 14, will receive vital reconstructive surgery at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital Thursday, after being sponsored by the charity Goodwill Caravan.
The boy was unable to walk after shrapnel from the attack pierced his back and lodged in his spine, perforating his lungs and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. He was also told that unless critical surgery went ahead, his kidneys would fail.
    Destroyed buldings in the Khaldiyeh district of Homs on July 28, 2013.
    Najib was initially declared dead following the strike, but his mother detected a light heartbeat when touching her son's ankle for what she thought was the last time, according to Goodwill Caravan.
    The family later escaped Syria to Turkey, and crossed the Mediterranean Sea and Greece in search of medical treatment, but were unable to access the required specialists.
    Now after months of waiting, Najib has been permitted to travel to the UK for the spinal reconstructive surgery, which will take place on November 1.
    The procedure will be carried out by pediatric spinal surgeon Ramesh Nadarajah, who waived his fees.
    Nadarajah met Najib at a pre-operative consultation and ran through the surgery, which will include straightening Najib's spine and leveling his pelvis using two rods screwed into the bone.
    The surgeon noted it would not be possible to restore sensation in Najib's lower back or his ability to walk. The aim of the operation is to improve the boy's comfort when seated in his wheelchair.