Allow us to introduce you to a little boy named Maddy, the 300th child you've impacted in Iraq! (It still seems surreal to type out that sentence!)
It may have been Maddy’s smile that won all of us over; or maybe the fact that he represents the 300th child we’ve served over the past 5 years; or maybe both!
But despite all the celebrations and smiles here at Basra’s first Remedy Mission, the doctors are eager to work. They have waited 30 years to save children like Maddy, and now it’s time to make up for lost time!
So to celebrate Maddy's life we're doing something we've never done before. We're planning 300 more lifesaving heart surgeries—next year alone!
But we need your help. Your donations are making the biggest impact yet, and we can't let up.
This Christmas, help us save the next 300.
Whether it's a straight-up donation, a Christmas fundraising party, gifting our new lifesaving tee to your friends and family, or starting an online fundraiser—100% of the money donated is going towards saving the next 300.
$9—Stitch a Heart
Our partner surgeons use high-quality stitches (called “sutures”) to fix leaky heart valves, sew up holes, and close up wounds after surgery. For just $9, you can help us save a child’s life—perfect for an office party or stocking stuffer!
$50—Patch a Heart
Our partner surgeons and nurses make heart patches for each child during their operation from a sheet of material called “Gore-Tex.” For just $50, you can fill the gap in a child’s heart and help save their life!
$500—Package of Patches
Your gift will help us buy enough material to create the patches and change the lives of ten children suffering from life-threatening holes in the walls of their hearts.
Your gift will help us buy all the medicines, sutures, patches and a portion of the airfare for our doctors and nurses required to save one child’s life on our next Remedy Mission. In partnership with the Iraqi government, $1,000 is roughly what it costs PLC to save a life in Iraq.
Start Your Own Fundraiser Online Today!
You may feel like you only have a few dollars, but when you combine your best with those closest to you, you will quickly find that you can patch a heart—or fund an entire heart surgery—as a group. Click here to get started –>
With newness there often comes a beautiful feeling of hope.
New equipment, new partnerships, new facilities; this is the first, fresh, new mission to Basra, and everyone is excited about what’s ahead. There’s no doubt that challenges are coming. There will be valleys, to be sure. But this week is a peak that we’re going to celebrate.
So take a minute to watch and share this video with your friends. We hope you’ll be drawn in to this 30 year-long dream that is just beginning to come true and that you’ll stick with us for all the videos—both happy and sad—as we work alongside the doctors of Basra.
More to come…
“Today our dream is coming true.”
These are the kinds of phrases we’re hearing in the southern port city of Basra right now. The local surgeons told us they’ve been trying to create a children’s heart hospital for nearly 30 years, and today they performed their first operation.
Decades of dreams, now made possible.
Amidst the excitement, hope, and tears, though, you’re not forgotten. You helped make this day possible! In fact, we brag about you guys. Today I told several Iraqi nurses about The Coalition around the world—of which you’re a part—who still care about Iraqis; I assured them they’re not forgotten, either.
And, for me, that’s one of the most beautiful things about this big, messy, collaboration: we haven’t forgotten one another.
Despite all the distance and differences, there are a bunch of doctors in Basra who know that they’re not forgotten, because you’ve remembered and supported them in their lifesaving dream.
The same goes for all the families who are about to receive back a healthy child—I can’t wait to tell them about you! Keep reading. I’ll have fresh faces and stories for you coming soon.
Doctors are literally putting their heads together to save Hassin‘s life. Dr. William Novick of the International Children’s Heart Foundation (on the left in red) is teaching the local Iraqi doctors how to correct Hassin’s heart defect.
Please pray for this boy’s recovery. More to come…
Hassin’s grandmother was pacing outside the lab, waiting for her grandson’s turn to be screened. From the look she gave the other families, they weren’t about to cut in front of her.
Having a friend there to translate, I walked over and introduced myself. I haven’t quite figured out what it is yet, but I think some combination of my height, dorky glasses, pasty skin, and ginormous camera make most Iraqis a little unsettled around me, sometimes even suspicious.
But she barely noticed me, she was so fixated on Hassin. When I commented on his eyelashes, she replied, “Yes, he’s really much too beautiful to be a boy, isn’t he?”
It wasn’t long before the cardiologist identified a hole in the lower part of Hassin’s heart, and the doctors immediately put him on the surgical list. Grandma kept lifting her hands and praying aloud for his safety.
The Iraqi doctor next to me explained that it was too difficult for the parents to even be in the room, so they entrusted their child to her. They’ll be getting good news, though, because Hassin’s surgery is as definite as things get here in Iraq!
Keep reading, we’ll have more of Hassin and his grandmother coming your way.
This is our final O.R. update for Remedy Mission XI in Najaf, and we can’t think of a better time to thank you for the lives you’ve helped save than right now! You made this a happy ending.
You gave money that bought plane tickets that led to training that saved lives and led to Iraqi doctors saying things like “I never imagined I would be learning to operate like this!”
So thank you!
Also, please allow us to use this space to thank our partners at Living Light International for their role in setting up this mission with the Ministry of Health and the provincial government of Najaf. We could not do this without their expertise and their devotion to the cause and their belief in the vision toward which we are moving. Also, we are grateful to the International Children’s Heart Foundation and their cadre of staff and volunteers from Memphis to Melbourne. None of the staff at PLC have any of the medical skills necessary to save these sweet children. Our hopes and our vision for the future of Iraq would be dead in the water without Dr. Novick and ICHF.
In the video, we also share a bit about Hussain and his progress as well as info on our fast-approaching Remedy Mission XII, where we’ll introduce you to even more amazing children in need of lifesaving heart surgery. You can donate below to partner with us further, and keep reading here on the blog—the best is yet to come.
Help us go back to Najaf to save more lives by donating below!
Sooooo remember a couple days ago when I said I’d met the cutest child ever? I may have been wrong…
Every mission I could swear I’d met the cutest child on the planet, they’re always one-upping each other. But today this little jewel was carried into the hospital break room, and I’m quite sure she takes the cake. And the crazy thing is, I’d already met her and didn’t realize it!
Her name is Sema (pronounced seh-mah), and she was the first arterial switch operation to be performed in Najaf last February. She was actually one of the first operations from Remedy Mission IX, and now she’s back for a post-op screening (just to make sure everything’s working alright).
Since our last encounter, Sema has learned how to smile, clap, eat on her own, and her skin is now a nice, life-like hue—as opposed to the blueberry tone she had before. Her parents were ecstatic and insisted that I take photos—a dream come true for any photographer!
After Sema had thoroughly won all of us over, her father grabbed Dr. Novick’s hand and, with a cracking voice and moist eyes, said, “Thank you for save her, sir!” His joy was a great reminder of why we do what we do, and it was a great reminder of how desperate these parents are. As you can imagine, the entire team was encouraged by their visit.
But Sema and her sweet smile wouldn’t be with us today if it weren’t for you—you gave money to make sure these Remedy Missions happen, and Sema is a testament to that. Would you consider giving again? Click here to donate and to help us save more children like Sema—we can’t do this without you!
Would you like to guess the first Arabic phrase I learned in Najaf?
Most people start with something relating to food or travel, or even buying things. But the first thing I learned: “I’m really not a doctor!” Now, considering I wear green scrubs and a surgical mask nearly 12 hours a day on these missions, it’s really not that surprising that people assume I’m a doctor or nurse. I look the part.
If you know me, though, you’d be shaking your head right now; my medical prowess is about as limited as it gets. If peroxide and band-aids don’t fix it, you’re in trouble!
And this is one of many reasons I’m grateful for the International Children’s Heart Foundation—they know what they’re doing, and they put that knowledge to incredibly good use. We’re on our 11th surgical Remedy Mission in Iraq, and it never ceases to amaze me how skilled and knowledgeable Dr. Novick and his team are.
A little background: ICHF draws from a pool of volunteers to take on surgical training missions around the world. But these aren’t just relief missions, they’re about teaching and developing surgical centers toward competence. And they’ve been doing this for almost 20 years. In fact, They’re fast-approaching their 5,000th heart operation!
That emphasis on training and long-term development (over short-term relief) is what makes them such a phenomenal partner in the fight against The Backlog. They’re willing to put in the years of blood, sweat, and tears required to bring Iraq to full surgical competency. This week of surgeries will be full of great moments—both tragic and joy-filled—and we’re honored to share in that with them!
To learn a little more about Dr. Novick and the International Children’s Heart Foundation, head over to their website. They have lots of great info on heart defects and healthcare development.
Or feel free to leave a comment below with your own thoughts on development and CHD in Iraq. Just don’t use too much medical jargon. I’m really not a doctor!
Remedy Mission X in Fallujah is over, but the exhaustion of it all doesn’t compare to the overwhelming joy I feel right now.
Given Fallujah’s history and our team’s desire to bless and serve the city, we’re humbled by what just happened. Think about it: 7 lifesaving operations, performed by an American team (6 of which were women), in one of the most war-torn, challenging cities in Iraq. And not only did they invite us back for 4 more trips in 2013, but we were also invited to work in a new city!
This kind of work just isn’t possible without an entire coalition of people, so, if you’ll allow us a moment, I’d like to point out those responsible for this historic Remedy Mission:
I’ll start with you. We make it a priority to remind you of your role in all of this because some people—not you!—are prone to forget what they’re capable of. Seriously, though, this work doesn’t happen without a continued grass-roots effort. People like you gave up their birthdays, gave monthly, and held fundraisers to make sure kids in Fallujah got the operations they need to live healthy, happy lives. You are essential.
This also couldn’t have happened without the talented local doctors at Fallujah General Hospital, who went above-and-beyond to make us feel comfortable and safe, and the incomparable Nahoko Takato and her Japanese partners, who gave $14,000 toward making this mission happen. Our partner organizations were also essential: Living Light International, our cultural compass; and Dr. Kirk Milhoan and his medical team of For Hearts And Souls volunteers.
All of these groups work tirelessly to make sure Iraqi children get their shot at a healthy heart, and we’re honored to work alongside them!
The work in Fallujah is finished for now, but our yearlong Remedy Fellowship program starts a week from today!
Our partner doctors are foregoing frequent flyer miles and, instead of constant travel back-and-forth, are moving here! Dr. William Novick and his team of International Children’s Heart Foundation volunteers are coming to LIVE in southern Iraq for a year!
In preparation for our upcoming year of training and life-saving, we’re raising money for medical supplies, one of which is listed below. Please consider funding sutures, and our doctors will use them to mend hearts!
Our 85 suture kits are FULLY funded — Thank you for helping fund $765 worth of medical supplies!