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Al Jazeera America’s Coverage of Our Surgical Work in Iraq

December 17, 2013 by · Comments Off 

On our recent Remedy Mission XX, we partnered again with Living Light International and the International Children’s Heart Foundation to bring surgical training to Iraq’s southernmost port city of Basra.

For this trip we were privileged to host a team from Al Jazeera America—one of whom was the previously mentioned Yasser Al Joumaili—to create a piece that aired on America Tonight.

Click above to watch!


Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalInternational Children's Heart Foundation

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

Coming Full-Circle—How You’re Helping Us Serve The Children Of Halabja Again!

November 21, 2013 by · Comments Off 

It all started with a little boy named Aras.

Nearly seven years ago, we helped this boy travel from his hometown of Halabja to a team of doctors who saved his life.

Last week we came full circle, serving in Halabja once again. You enabled our partner doctors to screen over 50 children, document their defects and help parents and grandparents better understand their child’s need.

It is a beautiful thing to watch, when parents finally understand what their child needs. I’ve met more families than I can count who seemed afraid at how completely in the dark they were about their child’s needs—that lack of knowledge leaves room for anxiety and hopelessness.

But expert diagnosticians like Dr. Kirk and his team are shedding a hopeful light on these children. Once parents know what their child needs, they can get to work finding it.

And, with your help, we plan to make sure they find it. Help us return for more lifesaving Remedy Missions by giving below!

DONATE HERE!

Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalFor Hearts and Souls logo

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

The Value of Diagnostics—How You Helped 50+ Families Understand Their Child’s Needs

November 18, 2013 by · Comments Off 

A collage of children being screened at the Sulaymaniyah Heart Center.

There can be no success against The Backlog if we don’t even know what we’re up against. Too often, people charge in, guns-a-blazin’ without making sure everyone involved—parents included—clearly understands the problem at hand.

But when it comes to serving children in Iraq, blowing through the diagnostics phase and cutting too soon can have tragic results, but that’s one of the most exciting things about this 21st Remedy Mission—this mission, we’ll focus on diagnostics.

A collage of children being screened at the Sulaymaniyah Heart Center.

This team’s collective compassion and experience in diagnostics makes them extremely helpful to families here. They were recently able to look at the hearts of 17 children in Sulaymaniyah, and then the next day we drove to Halabja and looked at the hearts of nearly 40 more children.

In both cases, they gave detailed explanations to the parents, were patient to answer each of their questions, and made their recommendations for moving forward—go, stay, pursue surgery immediately, wait, medicate, send them back to school, etc.

A collage of children being screened at the Sulaymaniyah Heart Center.

By the end of this mission, the team will have a better understanding of the treatment children in this region need, and, with your help, we’ll be able to help them get it soon!

Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalFor Hearts and Souls logo

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

Ridha Update—Still In The ICU, But Not Alone

November 17, 2013 by · Comments Off 

A photo of Ridha in the ICU.

Several of you have asked about Ridha, requesting updates.

We are checking in on him, and as of today he is still stable in the ICU. The local nurses there are committed to caring for him until he is well enough to leave—he isn’t alone.



Thank you for being so committed to these children. Your compassion sometimes sneaks up on us—I love getting emails asking for more updates, and we’re grateful that you care enough to ask!

Keep caring, asking, and expecting updates. We’ll let you know when we learn more on Ridha.


Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalInternational Children's Heart Foundation

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

“We Tell Them What Is Medically-Proven, Then We Prove It To Them.”

November 13, 2013 by · Comments Off 

2013.11.13.RMXXI.Sulaymaniyah.Screening.Day_7
I’ve been on a lot of Remedy Missions, but today was unique.

The team taught for several hours at the heart hospital about post-operative care to a group of young physicians and nurses. Dr. Kirk began the lectures by saying something exciting:

“We aren’t here to teach you American or German medicine, or medicine from the U.K. We are here to teach what is proven to work.

The team then lectured on pain assessment and management, communication in the ICU, and when/how to administer medication. I was a little uncertain about how the locals would respond, but that didn’t last—they interrupted with questions and feedback at almost every slide!

After the lectures, Dr. Kirk shared this insight into the training process:

“Changing a country’s medical culture is a long process, and as a doctor you have to know the difference between your personal style and what is medically-proven. Then you will often have to prove it to your students in the hospital—show them why you do it the way you do.”

It’s exciting to be a part of the pediatric cardiac development here in Sulaymaniyah. They have come so far, and there is even more left for them to learn.

The best part of the morning, though, was Dr. Kirk’s final challenge:

“Whenever you care for children, ask yourself this: how would I care for them if they were my own child? How would I attend to them if they were my own family? If I were in this bed, how would I want the nurse to care for me?

2013.11.13.RMXXI.Sulaymaniyah.Screening.Day_27


Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalFor Hearts and Souls logo

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

“A Child Who Needs Help,” First & Foremost—Meet Yaghmoor

November 12, 2013 by · Comments Off 

A photo of Yaghmoor on the cath table.
This is Yaghmoor.

Hailing from the disputed city of Kirkuk, Yaghmoor and her family are Turkmen, Iraq’s 3rd largest ethnicity and a group often at odds with their Arab and Kurdish neighbors.

But Yaghmoor’s recent heart procedure wasn’t marked by tension between neighbors. In fact, her parents were bombarded with something they didn’t seem to expect: kindness.

Despite their own regional backlog of children in need, the Kurdish heart team here in Sulaymaniyah didn’t discriminate or deny the family treatment. The head cardiologist, Dr. Aso, just shrugged when I asked him about serving other ethnicities:

“We just see a child who needs help. This is what is important for us.”

Yaghmoor received her procedure and was discharged with a clean bill of health this morning. Her family left looking groggy but grateful to a group of people who could have ignored them but chose to lean in and help.

But the same could be said for you. You’re here, reading about a random child in some (probably) faraway country. You may have even once considered Yaghmoor’s people to be your ‘enemy,’ or at least not worth your time. But here you are, and you “just see a child who needs help.” This is what’s important for you.

Thank you. There are more Yaghmoors out there, and we can’t wait to serve them with you!

A photo of the doctors adjusting Yaghmoor on the cath table.


Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalFor Hearts and Souls logo

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

Back To Sulaymaniyah For Remedy Mission XXI!

November 11, 2013 by · Comments Off 

2013.11.11.RMXXI.Sulaymaniyah.Cath.Lab_8
We are back in Sulaymaniyah!

It has been years since we last worked in the Heart Center here, and it’s a joy to return. Since our last mission back in March of 2011, surgical training teams from Italy, America, and several other places have partnered with Sulaymaniyah’s pediatric cardiac team to further develop this heart center.

Twenty-one missions ago, this site became the birthplace of our Remedy Mission programs. This place and these people symbolize a defining change in our work that grew out of your support—you changed the the way we do pediatric cardiac care!

It’s exciting to see how Dr. Aso (pictured below) and his team have grown, and we are proud to work alongside them again.

Come back tomorrow to read more!

2013.11.11.RMXXI.Sulaymaniyah.Cath.Lab_22-2


Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalFor Hearts and Souls logo

As Communication Director, Matt Willingham spends most of his time trying to get the word out on PLC's work in Iraq. On the side, he likes reading stories, devouring the great food his wife cooks up, and DSLR camera work. He's also mildly obsessed with Twitter: @mehtin.

20 Missions Later—You’re Still Saving Lives

November 2, 2013 by · Comments Off 

Iraqi woman holding a child after surgery

Three and a half years ago you helped launch the very first Remedy Mission inside Iraq.

Today, twenty missions later, you have helped save the lives of more than 315 children through Remedy Missions alone. This doesn’t include the hundreds who have been saved through Remedy Fellowship. Beyond the immediate impact on these lives, you helped provide tens of thousands of hours of hands-on training for locals like Dr. Akeel, Dr. Zainab, and hundreds of medical professionals across the country.

We see your impact on a daily basis.

Your donations have ensured that hundreds each year can have access to the lifesaving surgery they need.

Remedy Mission XX continues your impact. These past two weeks we witnessed Zainab, Hussein, Fatima, and twelve others receive lifesaving surgeries. We witnessed thousands of hours of training given around the clock to local doctors and nurses. We witnessed two surgical operations that had never been performed before in this local heart center, bringing inspiration and hope to an entire local community who thought these kind of lifesaving operations were only available outside of Iraq.

This is your impact!

We have two more Remedy Missions just around the corner, but we need your help. Will you donate today and continue your lifesaving impact inside Iraq?

Your donations will help launch two more Remedy Missions in central and southern Iraq before the year ends.

Click here to donate now!


Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalInternational Children's Heart Foundation

Cody Fisher is the co-founder and Development Director of the Preemptive Love Coalition. He moved to Iraq in 2007 where he met his wife and since then they've been waging peace and mending hearts across Iraq. His passions are photography, peacemaking, and food that doesn't come out of a can. You can follow him on Twitter: @candmfisher.

Ridha Slowly Gains Momentum In the ICU

November 1, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Heart defects don’t go without a fight—especially Ridha’s heart defects.

Each child we operate on has a ranking of how difficult their operation and recovery will be. It’s a way for us to discern the risk of an operation before we move forward. Each Remedy Mission has a combination of low-risk and high-risk operations.

The low-risk operations are better for teaching and long-term development, and the high-risk operations happen because that child may die at any moment. If we were not in the hospital, those high-risk children have no hope for getting the lifesaving surgery they need. So each mission we make room for those cases, for the underdogs. 

Ridha’s operation carried the highest level of risk there is to have. He is the definition of an underdog—that’s why we’re fighting for him. 

The good news is that Ridha’s recovery is slowly gaining momentum in the ICU. The victories are small but significant. He will be sick for a while. But with each new day the victories are adding up.  

Ridha may have a long road ahead of him, and that’s why I want to rally you around him. He needs our support. So we are going to keep giving it to him, as long as he needs it. 

Thanks for sticking with us. Children like Ridha give hope to all the other underdogs we meet on these Remedy Missions, and people like you make this hope possible.


Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalInternational Children's Heart Foundation

Cody Fisher is the co-founder and Development Director of the Preemptive Love Coalition. He moved to Iraq in 2007 where he met his wife and since then they've been waging peace and mending hearts across Iraq. His passions are photography, peacemaking, and food that doesn't come out of a can. You can follow him on Twitter: @candmfisher.

Dr. Zainab Holds Up Half the Skies of Iraq

October 31, 2013 by · Comments Off 

Photo of Dr. Zainab performing surgery

Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn wrote the brilliant book, Half The Sky, in 2009. The entire premise flows out of the Chinese proverb that says “Women hold up half the sky.”

Being in Iraq since 2007, and working in Iraq’s hospitals since 2010, I’ve seen that proverb proven true time after time—women hold up half the sky.

Meet Dr. Zainab.

She is one of millions across the country holding up half the sky. And in this heart center, she just might be holding more than her share.

The words “women” and “Middle East” don’t usually bring up the most positive images in the West. We tend to think the worst, and no doubt, some of those images are true and justified. But usually we get so overwhelmed by the narrative in our head that we forget about the rest. We forget about the other, true narratives that inspire; the ones that bring hope and fly in the face of our preconceived stereotypes and projections.

Dr. Zainab is one of those narratives.

She brings years of education, experience, and knowledge to the local heart center. She is a force in the operating room, directing her team, teaching those under her, and inspiring through her own example and work ethic. Dr. Zainab is someone you want to follow. She is someone I want to follow. The medical staff aspires to be like her and the patients seek her out to be loved on, held, and listened to.

By investing in her, we aren’t just investing in a single individual. We’re investing in an entire heart center. We’re investing in thousands of patients she will serve in the coming years. And we’re investing in the millions of women across the country who look to women like her for inspiration and mentorship.

She is one of the many women whom you are helping invest in this mission—all filled with potential and determined to see the day when they’ll be able to play a key role in saving the hundreds of children in their city with heart defects.

You are helping that become a reality.


Our Partners:
Living Light InternationalInternational Children's Heart Foundation

Cody Fisher is the co-founder and Development Director of the Preemptive Love Coalition. He moved to Iraq in 2007 where he met his wife and since then they've been waging peace and mending hearts across Iraq. His passions are photography, peacemaking, and food that doesn't come out of a can. You can follow him on Twitter: @candmfisher.

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 IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

Living Light International For Hearts & Souls International Children's Heart Foundation