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Two Crippled Lebanese Boys Return Home After Treatment

December 4, 1987

LONDON (AP) _ Two Lebanese boys paralyzed by snipers’ bullets in Beirut flew home Friday after undergoing months of treatment, and they improved enough to walk on crutches and do stunts in their wheelchairs.

Bilal Shebab, 7, and Samir Ibrahim, 9, arrived on stretchers and were taken to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, a spinal-injuries center 38 miles northwest of London.

Both had been paralyzed from the waist down by snipers’ bullets. During their six months of treatment, they learned to walk with the aid of crutches and leg braces and became expert at using wheelchairs.

Dr. Pauline Cutting, a British surgeon who worked at the Palestinian refugee camp of Bourj El Barajneh and arranged for their treatment, was at Heathrow Airport to see them off.

″They are so much better off than they were,″ she said. ″I think mobility will be difficult in certain conditions there, but they have learned to overcome so many obstacles so easily that I think they will cope.″

Dr. Swee Ang, who was going to Beirut for the fifth time with the boys, said that when they arrived in Britain they were weak and miserable.

″Now they are happy kids,″ she said. ″They have learned to look after themselves. They can handle their wheelchairs and even crutches.″

Both boys said they were looking forward to seeing their families, but would miss their friends in England.

″I don’t think they are fully aware what it going to happen,″ Ang said. ″To be a paraplegic anywhere in the world is horrible. To be a paraplegic in a war-torn country is much worse.″

The cost of their treatment was paid for by television personality Jimmy Saville and the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians, which sent both doctors to Beirut.

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