Youssif, the 5-year-old Iraqi boy who was savagely burned by masked men, arrived in the United States late Tuesday with his family -- the first step toward his lengthy rehabilitation.
They had traveled more than 7,500 miles to get help for their son, from war-torn central Baghdad to coastal Los Angeles. It marked the first time the family had ever left their homeland, let alone flown on a plane.
The family left Amman, Jordan, early Tuesday en route to the United States. The night before they departed, Youssif didn't sleep a wink. He woke the family up extra early, shouting, "Let's go! Let's go!"
Youssif, his parents and his infant sister, Ayaa, finished their 24-hour journey in Los Angeles around 11 p.m. PT Tuesday. They were greeted by members of the Children's Burn Foundation, the nonprofit organization that paid for the family's travel and is covering all of Youssif's medical bills.
CNN and CNN.com first reported his story on August 22 after the family risked their lives to tell his story: On January 15, masked men grabbed Youssif outside his home, doused him with gas and set him on fire.
The story prompted an outpouring of support to get help for Youssif. More than 12,000 CNN.com users have contributed to a fund set up by the Children's Burn Foundation.
In recent weeks, the foundation worked feverishly with the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to secure the necessary paperwork for the family's travel to the United States -- something that typically takes months, if not years, to do.
Youssif and his family are expected to be in the United States for six months to a year while he undergoes multiple surgeries and extensive rehabilitation.
They are to meet with Dr. Peter Grossman, the plastic surgeon who will perform the operations, Wednesday afternoon. Grossman works for the nearby Grossman Burn Center and is donating his services to Youssif's cause.
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