Lt. Ceasar Hamed Hassan

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By Sherry Metzger

After Lt. Ceasar Hamed Hassan lost his hand, when during a routine patrol his vehicle collided with a VBIED (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) often used by suicide bombers, the well-respected Iraqi soldier thought his career would be over. He kept his functional hook prosthesis hidden by bandages because he feared his men would perceive him as disabled and he'd lose their respect.

Thanks to a collaborative effort by several doctors, military personnel, prosthetists, the Barr Foundation, and the Hosmer/Fillauer Companies, Hassan received a cosmetic hand earlier this year and was able to confidently resume his leadership position in the Iraqi Army.

Hassan, Military Intelligence Officer, 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, lost more than his hand in that VBIED explosion-his fellow soldiers were killed. Yet, Hassan bravely continues to serve his country despite these losses. Col. Glasgow, who initiated the project to obtain a cosmetic hand for Hassan, said, "Lt. Ceasar continued to operate at full speed; he did not let his disability affect him whatsoever." Glasgow explained that after Hassan was taken by MediVac to a hospital in Baghdad, he returned to the field just a few days later saying he couldn't fight insurgents from a hospital.

Help Gets Underway

Major Steven Bauer, brigade surgeon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, instructs Lt. Ceasar Hamed Hassan, military intelligence office, 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, on  how to close and open his newly received prosthetic hand. US Army photo by Pfc. Edgar Reyes, 2nd BCT PAO, 4ID.
Major Steven Bauer, brigade surgeon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, instructs Lt. Ceasar Hamed Hassan, military intelligence office, 2nd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, on how to close and open his newly received prosthetic hand. US Army photo by Pfc. Edgar Reyes, 2nd BCT PAO, 4ID.

Maj. Steven Bauer, Brigade Surgeon, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was instrumental in fitting Hassan's new prosthetic hand. Bauer said Hassan's story stands out among so many war amputee stories. "For me, it was his attitude," Bauer said. "Despite having lost his hand, he was still leading his men. He would tape his AK-47 to his old prosthetic claw and fight insurgents that way."

Glasgow asked Brent Lindley, clinical pharmacy coordinator, Wesley Medical Center, to do what he could to procure a prosthesis for Hassan. Lindley took Hassan to a prosthetic clinic in Baghdad, but they did not have the technology to create upper-limb prostheses. "Procuring a prosthetic arm wasn't going to be like ordering a box of MREs," Lindley said. "We pursued several different avenues. Lt. Ceasar is a strong officer in the Iraqi Army. As a platoon leader and staff officer, he was very well respected and recognized as someone who would have great potential in shaping the Iraqi Army."

Others from both the US and Baghdad quickly became involved in the project, including Mike Cero, who was stationed in Iraq, and his wife, Susie, an orthopedic surgeon in Washington. Susie contacted long-time acquaintance Karl Entenmann, CPO, Preferred Orthotic and Prosthetic Services, Federal Way, Washington, who solicited the Barr Foundation, based in Boca Raton, Florida. The project was called "a very well coordinated humanitarian effort by both military and civilians" by Barr Foundation President Tony Barr.

Bauer sent Entenmann measurements and pictures of Hassan's residual limb via e-mail, and from that and a cast Bauer mailed, Entenmann was able to create and color-match a prosthesis for a man he had never met, thousands of miles away. "[Hassan] did not have access to the high level of prosthetic care that we have in the USA," Entenmann said. "However, [the surgeon] left him with a very well healed, nicely shaped residual limb-one that was easy to fit." Entenmann mailed the completed prosthetic hand and gloves (donated by Hosmer/ Fillauer), a spare harness, socks, cables, and connectors along with instructions on how to correctly fit and adjust the harness.

Brighter Outlook

Bauer presented Hassan with his new hand at the Forward Operating Base, Iskandariyah, where he was based. "I noticed when he received his hand that his face lit up like a child at Christmas. He was so very grateful for all that the Coalition Forces had done for him," Bauer said.

Hassan said in a media release out of Camp Liberty, Baghdad, "I have been able to shoot weapons with one hand, but now it will be easier for me to practice with my new hand."

His comrades have noticed that his outlook has greatly improved. Cero added, "Lt. Ceasar showed great courage and duty reporting to his unit well before rehabilitation was finished. [Hassan] is the type of dedicated individual Iraq needs to develop its democracy."

"I am very grateful for the gift the Coalition Forces have given me," Hassan said. "I want to thank them for taking time to help me with my situation. Before receiving his hand he felt "inadequate" and hid his prosthesis, now Hassan is leading his platoon and helping protect his country's delicate democracy.