Afghan toddler treated at U.S. hospital

May 29, 2009 at 6:12 PM

CINCINNATI, May 29 (UPI) -- A young Afghan girl who swallowed a battery last year is recovering in Cincinnati after surgery to repair her airway, doctors say.

Nazia Ghani remains at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Doctors there say they will know soon when she can return home.

The 2-year-old's family lives without running water or electricity in Afghanistan. When Nazia got sick last year, they took her to a hospital at Bagram Air Force Base because the trip to the children's hospital in Kabul would have taken too long.

"By the time we got her there, she would have been dead," her 18-year-old brother, Atiqe Ghani, told the Enquirer through an interpreter.

Doctors at Bagram discovered Nazia had swallowed a small battery and the acid had burned holes in her esophagus and airway. They were able to save her life but not to do the extensive repair work she needed.

"She was pretty sick when she first came in," said Lt. Col. Jan Setnor, a certified registered nurse-anesthetist with the Air Force.

Setnor, who had trained in Cincinnati, helped arrange Nazia's trip. The hospital provided care for free, and Children's Miracle Network and Delta Airlines provided transportation.

"Batteries are interesting. They seem so innocent, but in the human body, they can begin eroding tissue in a matter of hours," said Dr. Ravindhra Elluru, who performed the surgery.

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