TAMPA (FOX 13) - We introduced you to Qais Doudin almost exactly one year ago. He's a teenager from Palestine who came to the U.S. for the sole purpose of losing a leg - and he couldn't be happier about it.
Now, Qais is showing off his new left leg prosthesis, and his newly-straightened right leg, and is excited to return home to the West Bank and show his family all the progress he's made.
It will be quite a moment when Qais gets off the plane in the Middle East later this month.
"He hasn't told [his family] he can walk," said Hakeem Abunada of the Palestine Children's Relief Fund. "He hasn't shown them any footage yet."
He arrived in Tampa back in April, 2016 as a 17-year-old prisoner to a pair of legs. One had grown crooked, and the other only grew half-way.
"This portion of the lower bone and foot were in two separate pieces," said Dr. Maureen Maciel of Shriner's Hospital. "He wrapped them together in order to keep them together so he could put weight on them and walk."
There was little that hospitals in Palestine could do for him, given scant medical resources. But the Palestine Children's Relief Fund set him up with a host family in New Tampa and arranged for pro bono surgery at Shriner's Hospital at USF.
"He has never imagined the journey that he has gone through," said Abunada
Doctors amputated the lower portion of his left leg and fit it with a prosthetic. They fit the right leg with a series of pins, which slowly lengthened his leg.
"He turned each one of these struts one millimeter a day to slowly bring his leg from this position, to this position," demonstrated Dr. Maciel.
Now his hips are even, and his legs are straight and the same length. He went from 5'2" to 5'6".
"He is just getting used to walking first," said Abunada. "But he has a big vision for his life."
But Qais also has new perspective on the global conflicts his homeland faces. He pledges to help children by becoming an attorney.
"What we have learned from this experience is that we are all people, all human beings, and we try to give each other a chance to learn from one another," said Abunada.
From the Palestinian territories to Tampa, and back. Now Qais can go anywhere.
"My life is better now, so thanks to you," he said.