British surgeons treat grenade-hit Libyan teen

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A 15-year-old boy wounded in the Libyan conflict has received treatment at a London hospital, a spokeswoman said Friday, the first of 50 critically injured Libyans being offered care in Britain.

Abdul Malek El Hamdi hurt his leg when a grenade hidden at his school exploded. His friend Wadir died, and Abdul was taken to hospital in Tripoli.

Under a British offer to treat victims of the uprising against Moamer Kadhafi's regime, he was flown to London on Thursday and was immediately admitted for surgery at St Mary's Hospital.

"Since arriving last night, Abdul has had a surgical procedure to remove fragments of grenade from his foot and to treat his infected left leg," a hospital spokeswoman said.

She stressed that the Libyan authorities would pay for his treatment -- Britain's state-run National Health Service is currently battling to save £20 billion (23 billion euros, $30 billion) by 2015 as part of an austerity drive.

Plastic surgeon Shehan Hettiaratchy, who helped treat Abdul, said he was was a "robust little kid" and was doing well.

When he arrived in hospital, he was found to have a potentially life-threatening infection on one of his legs and required immediate surgery.

"He has responded incredibly well to the operation and this morning was sitting up and had a big grin on his face," Hettiaratchy said.

Prime Minister David Cameron offered to treat 50 critically injured Libyans in Britain when he visited the north African country last week, and Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said Britain was "delighted" to welcome Abdul.

"The courage he has shown in the face of horrific injuries symbolises both the great sacrifices made by the Libyan people but also the hope and optimism with which they are facing the future," Burt said late Thursday.

Britain has played a leading role in NATO's bombing campaign in Libya.

© 2011 AFP

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