After three hard days of travel from Iraq, Noora Afif Abdulhameed arrived in Portland late Wednesday morning for follow-up operations to the life-saving surgery done here in 2008. And she didn’t have any time to rest once she got here.

Susi Eggenberger, who through the group No More Victims originally arranged to bring Noora to Portland for treatment of a sniper wound to the head, said the first follow-up operation is scheduled Friday.

Consequently, Dr. John Attwood, a plastic surgeon from South Portland who performed some of the earlier surgery, had to conduct an examination Wednesday afternoon.

Despite the long travel and the examination, Noora, who is now 9, was still excited and energetic as she was shown her room at Ronald McDonald House on Brackett Street, snacking on Cheez Doodles — her favorite American snack from the earlier trip — and chatting.

“It’s amazing how quickly her English has come back,” Eggenberger said. Eggenberger had found in telephone conversations with Noora and her father, Afif Abdulhameed Otaiwi, that Noora had lost a lot of the English that she picked up during the year she spent in Portland in 2008 and 2009.

But once she was back, it seemed as if she had never left, remembering her old friends and familiar places.

The surgery scheduled Friday involves putting two or three small balloons between the skin and the scalp. That area will be injected with saline to stretch the skin so hair can be pulled over the scar from the bullet wound, Eggenberger said. Depending on how the surgery goes, Noora is expected to have two or three operations over the next two or three months.

The three days of travel involved flying from Baghdad to Jordan, then an 11-hour flight from Jordan to New York and a morning flight from New York to Portland.

Otaiwi was trying to call his wife and Noora’s mother, Afrah, but was having trouble making connections. In the previous trip he used Skype to make phone calls, but he did not bring his computer on this trip.

“We may have to do something about that,” Eggenberger told him.

Afrah has mixed feelings about Noora coming back to Portland, Otaiwi said.

“Afrah is sad that Noora had to leave her family,” Otaiwi said, “but she is glad she is getting the surgery, which she needs very much.”

The group ate lunch Wednesday at Big Sky Bakery, where Noora had a turkey sandwich.

Noora already has some big plans for today. She wants to get back on the swings she enjoyed so much during her previous stay at Ronald McDonald House.

“You can pump now, can’t you,” Eggenberger asked as Noora nodded.


Staff Writer Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at

[email protected]Noora is expected to have two or three operations over the next two or three months.