- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - A 1-year-old boy from northern Iraq is cheerful and energetic a month after undergoing surgery for multiple heart defects at a western Michigan hospital.

The Grand Rapids Press has posted a video (https://bit.ly/1sddZUE ) of Daniel Alpatros at a follow-up examination this week. Daniel had a four-hour open heart operation Nov. 11 at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.

He was born Oct. 13, 2013, in a village near the city of Irbil. When he was one month old, doctors diagnosed him with a defect that leads to symptoms known as “blue baby syndrome” because of a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream.

His mother and father are teachers. Ban (BAHN) Khamoo and Ayad Alpatros moved to northern Iraq from Baghdad in 2007 because of violence in the Iraqi capital.

Pediatric heart surgeon Jeffrey Schneider says those with the defect die young unless it’s corrected.

“I am so happy,” Ban Khamoo said through an interpreter. “It’s indescribable.”

The parents contacted the Iraqi Human Rights Society of the U.S.A., a Detroit-based advocacy group for Christians and other minorities in Iraq. That group contacted the Healing the Children chapter based in Grand Rapids, which worked with the hospital to arrange the operation.

Dr. Marcus Haw performed the surgery and said Monday that Daniel can have a normal childhood and can participate in sports.

“Now he crawls and walks without being blue. He is pink all the time,” Khamoo said.

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