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U.S. Mom, Ailing Son to Leave Lebanon

July 19, 2006

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A Los Angeles mother stranded in Lebanon pleaded with American authorities for days to evacuate her family because her son was running out of medication vital to his transplanted liver. Late Tuesday, she finally got her wish.

Rima Issa and her two young children will be transferred Wednesday to Cyprus, her husband said from Los Angeles where the family lives.

Nine-year-old Noureddine, a transplant patient vacationing in Lebanon, had only a six-day supply of his medicine left after an explosion from an Israeli airstrike made him drop the medication bottle.

``Without his medications, he cannot live,″ said his father Amer Issa, a 44-year-old businessman who stayed back in Los Angeles.

Rima Issa, an American citizen of Lebanese origin, said she requested from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut to be evacuated with her family last Thursday, the second day of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas. She said she spoke repeatedly to embassy employees about Noureddine’s case.

Her husband said he was notified late Tuesday that his wife and children would be evacuated Wednesday and transferred to Cyprus.

Thousands of Americans are awaiting evacuation from Lebanon and some have complained the U.S. government has been slow to get its citizens out. Nearly 200 Americans _ described by the embassy as humanitarian cases _ have been flown out by military helicopter since Sunday.

Rima Issa, Noureddine and her daughter Farah, 12, arrived in Lebanon June 15 and had been due to leave Aug. 19.

Noureddine had a liver transplant in 1997 when he was seven months old and ever since takes an anti-rejection drug twice a day. The drug, Prograf, is not available in Lebanon, Rima Issa told The Associated Press.

Noureddine’s doctor, Sue McDiarmid of the University of California, Los Angeles, even intervened on the family’s behalf, calling government officials.

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