Mohammed says farewell to Michigan

Here's an update to a story you first saw on NBC25.

In November of 2008, a member of the Michigan National Guard while in Iraq, saw a badly burned little boy.

He was able to bring him here and get the medical care he needed.

Thursday, he said farewell.

"My motto has been 'Believe in a cause greater than yourself,'" says Major David Howell of the Michigan National Guard. It was that motto that drove him to bring Mohammed to Michigan for medical treatment.

Mohammed had been badly burned in a house fire when he was an infant. With the help of Michigan State University and Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, Mohammed went through five extensive surgeries. He also had dental work and vision correction performed.

One of his surgeons, Edward D. Lanigan M.D. says, "We're just glad that we're able to do as much as we could for him. The trouble with burn kids is there's more things you'd like to do for them, but you can't keep him here forever."

Mohammed lived with an adopted Muslim family so that there was little culture shock for him. Mahdi Saeed was one of the family members who took Mohammed in. He says, "Because we are from the same culture, I think that's made a lot of positive difference of his adaptation and feeling relaxed with no pressure."

Mohammed also went to an Islamic school. However, his year-long stay wasn't all work and no play. Mohammed was able to attend several sporting events, like Detroit Tigers baseball, Detroit Pistons basketball, and Detroit Lions football games.

Mohammed's dad was killed by terrorists three years ago because he was working as a translator for the U.S. Marines. His uncle was also killed when he went to the morgue to claim the body.

Even with all the difficulty he's seen, Mohammed is still excited to go home. So is his mother. Mohammed says, "She's pretty excited, really happy."

For Major Howell, it's a bittersweet moment of not having Mohammed around, who he considered a son. Howell says, "When he leaves here, that's not going to be the end of our relationship. We're going to keep in touch and hopefully down the road we'll be able to do more for him."

Major Howell will be traveling with Mohammed when he heads back to Iraq on Sunday.

An endowment has been set up for Mohammed and his family. You can get there by clicking on the link below.