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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A little boy is returning to Yemen on Saturday with an unbelievable gift.
Thanks to incredible generosity from local doctors and complete strangers, the son of a U of L medical school student has had a whole new world opened up to him.
Four-year-old Mohammed Al Maqtari's family says what's happened to him is nothing short of a miracle.
Two months ago, U of L physicians gave the boy, who was born in Yemen with profound hearing loss, a cochlear implant.
It marked the end of a very long road. His father, Tareq Al Maqtari, is a PhD student at the U of L School of Medicine. He contacted Dr. Arun Gadre who, after seeing his son, said he was an excellent candidate for an implant -- but the clock was ticking.
"Implants that are put in before the age of five years and those that are put in after the age of five years -- the results are vastly different," Gadre said.
But, there was a big problem: the operation costs $100,000. Al Maqtari and his family didn't have one dime.
Dr. Gadre and all of the other physicians involved donated their services; Gadre even put up $5,000 of his own money to pay for the implant. Al Maqtari had to raise the remaining $20,000.
He took a friend's advice and set up a website and appealed on social media. He had all of the money in just two and a half weeks.
"I thought that God is pushing. It's not people doing this, this is somebody above all of us did all of that. I mean from 100-thousand dollars to free, it's just amazing," Al Maqtari said.
Dr. Gadre says there's no way he was going to turn this boy away.
"You know, we go on mission trips overseas, why not do it in our backyard?"
Now, Mohammed's father says his son is saying many more words than when he just had hearing aids, and he's reacting to sounds that he never would have before.
A sign this little boy is on his way to where his parents never dreamed he would be.
"I think he can do whatever. I was told he can be like a normal person, he can go to college, he can speak, he can do everything," Al Maqtari said.
Gadre says with regular treatment, Mohammed should be able to speak normally in about four or five years.