- Apr 12, 2008
- Reaction score
- real world
Mays Landing man
serving in Army aids
Afghan boy in need of
Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 8:45 pm | Updated: 10:
18 pm, Fri May 6, 2011.
By JOEL LANDAU Staff Writer
Kathleen Battschinger received a call at her Mays
Landing home last year with an unusual request.
A doctor was needed to help a 6-year-old boy in
Afghanistan who was born with his bladder outside
Battschinger's son, Army Maj. Glenn Battschinger, of
Mays Landing, was on foot patrol in Jalalabad,
Afghanistan, in April 2010 when he came across
Muslam Hagigshah, who was bowlegged and held his
leaking bladder in his hand.
She said her son told her the boy was begging for
help along a street with his mother.
"Glenn really felt he had to do something for this
child," she said Friday. "He couldn't live life how he
Battschinger said she went through several
organizations before contacting the New Jersey
branch of Healing the Children, a nonprofit
organization that donates medical care to children
around the world. Last summer the group contacted
Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, and Dr.
Moneer Hanna, a pediatric urologist who has
performed more than 150 such procedures. Both
agreed instantly to treat Muslam free of charge.
Three months later, the boy landed at Newark Liberty
International Airport. Muslam stayed in Summit with a
foster family that has begun to teach him English and
enrolled him in kindergarten.
"He is absolutely in heaven," Kathleen Battschinger
said. "He loves this country and his village loves the
Americans for what we're doing for him."
Glenn Battschinger, a Civil Affairs officer, said his unit
was assigned to set up the government and rebuild
Helping the child was part of his mission, he said.
"This child represented an opportunity for us to do
good and show ordinary Afghans compassion of what
is out there beyond their city walls," he said. "This
was a contribution of many ordinary Americans who
answered a call from far away. This is indicative of
support Americans are giving Americans. It's
phenomenal so many people are behind our effort to
secure ourselves and our children's future. I'm
grateful to everyone out there who is supporting us."
The soldier had seen the boy several times since he
returned home last November but the two
reconnected again Friday. It was the first time the
soldier met the surgeon and hospital staff.
At a ceremony Friday at the hospital, a grinning
Muslam was wheeled in from the room where he has
been recovering from a second surgery performed a
week ago. As he beamed at the oversized chocolate
cake marking his recovery, Muslam leaned forward in
his wheelchair to tell reporters - in English - that his
favorite sport is lacrosse, which his foster brother
has been teaching him.
Hanna thinks Muslam will recover and function
normally. The abnormality Muslam was born with
affects one in 40,000 babies, he said, but occurs
more frequently in the Middle East than in the West.
Glenn Battschinger said he knew the boy would
receive this level of care and is not surprised at all to
see how well he's doing.
"This never would have happened in Afghanistan," he
said. "He would have died."
Battschinger served in the U.S. Army for 12 years
before he was discharged in 1994. He was
recomissioned in 2008 and served his tour between
November 2009 and November 2010.
"It was a calling. I wanted to serve my country in a
time of war," the 49-year-old said. "I felt I was still
young enough and I wanted to give to this effort."
Battschinger grew up in Atlantic Highlands but his
family moved to Mays Landing 10 years ago. He has
two sons, Gregory, 14, and Cedric, 12, who live in
Kathleen Battschinger said her son was always
concerned about helping the people he met overseas
and was not surprised he took such initiative for the
"He surprises us every day of his life. He never takes
no for an answer," she said. "Sometimes that's not
good, but in this case it was very good."
And he is not done with his efforts.
Battschinger plans to accompany the boy back to
Afghanistan in four to six months, once his recovery
is complete. The major will make the trip as a civilian
and will help drill two water wells near Muslam's
home in Jalalabad.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.