As they were waiting for surgery, I snagged Hussain and his dad for a quick photo shoot in the adjacent operating room. His father is nervous—he keeps grabbing his son and squeezing him. Hussain is normally too hyper to be held down, but he just sat there and let his dad hold him. I’m sure he could tell something was about to happen.
For me, this is the most unsettling time of the entire surgical process. It’s not while they’re in the O.R. or when they’re in critical condition in the ICU, it’s now. It’s the waiting. Once the child is on the table there’s no going back, but you can see the uncertainty in Hussain’s father’s eyes as he sits there wondering whether or not to go through with it.
If I’m nervous, I can’t even begin to imagine how he must feel.
As I sat with them, I attempted to exchange emails with Hussain’s father in order to send him the photos after the mission. He didn’t know what email was; a nearby nurse had to explain it to him. I tried to imagine how his father could not know about email and still be willing to trust his child to the doctors with all their medical technology and know-how. It must have taken incredible faith on his part to let Hussain climb up onto that operating table.
But thankfully, we have a phenomenal team with us this mission, and Hussain’s case isn’t overly complex. That doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee, but it’s at least comforting. Thanks for sticking with Hussain and his sweet father up to this point.
We’ll have more surgery updates for you in a few hours—keep reading!
She’s four and a half years old and was born with a congenital heart defect that wasn’t discovered until she was three years old.
If you ran into this beautiful girl outside of the hospital, you probably wouldn’t even notice that she had a heart defect.
It wouldn’t be until you saw her run, play, and laugh that you would notice how quickly she became tired. A year and a half from now you would notice it when she wouldn’t be able to walk to school with the rest of the children. When she’s at school, you would notice her not having the strength to stay awake in class.
But tomorrow Parzheen is being given the surgery that’s going to change all of that!
It will let her run to school.
It will let her interact with her classmates at school.
It will give her the chance to try out that jump rope that she’s never had the strength to conquer.
It will save her life.
Parzheen goes into surgery in the next few hours.
Stay with us as we follow her story!
If you’re on Twitter this week be sure to use the #RemedyMission hashtag to describe all the good news coming out of Iraq this week via @preemptivelove.
With help from our friends:
December 22, 2010 by Cody · Comments Off
At the end of the first Remedy Mission in Southern Iraq we served 22 families, corrected 45 heart defects and gave a collective 7,000 hours of training to more than 50 local doctors and nurses!
Kids conquered heart disease together, families built new networks of friendships, doctors gained mentors, nurses gathered inspiration, and a foundation was laid for what might someday become a fully functional, locally-run pediatric cardiac surgery center.
Thanks to YOU, the momentum has continued from our first Remedy Mission in Sulaymaniyah last August to the latest mission in Nasiriyah. As we get ready for 2011, both Sulaymaniyah and Nasariyah are preparing for 8 more Remedy Missions this next year!
The growing coalition of partners that continue to bring Remedy include all of us at PLC, our freinds at the International Children’s Heart Foundation, Living Light International, Kurdistan Save the Children, both the Iraqi and Kurdish governments along with local governments and ministries of health, and you!
Without your support, there would be no remedies like what we’re witnessing.
With your support, this will only be the beginning!
With each story that’s told through these missions, a growing community is being drawn to the people of Iraq. As a community, we’re not only beginning to grow in our understanding and love but we’re tangibly waging peace in both our local communities and in communities throughout the Middle East.
It’s a pleasure to be standing alongside you. Let’s press on!
December 19, 2010 by Cody · Comments Off
This week, little five year old Shams Hadi died during her 12 hour operation. Shams was born with a combination of three congenital heart defects. By themselves, those three defects aren’t unusual among children here but none of the doctors or cardiologists had ever seen the combination of all three in one child.
In a developed country, Shams should have received surgery at three months. Her five year wait had simply done too much damage to her heart and lungs and by the time she saw the doctors that could cure her, it was too late.
The doctors were astonished she had lived this long.
But this week there was one last chance to fight for her life.
Before Remedy began, I thought about what I would write in this post. I came into these two weeks knowing that lives would be saved but also facing the sober reality that it might already be too late for some of the children we’ve met.
Even though these surgeries are just in time for some and too late for others, every one of these children is having their story rewritten.
Their stories all began with them being born in a country that didn’t have the doctors or hospitals that could save them from their disease. While there were remedies, they are all overseas and out of reach for all of them. Before now, these stories were ending with them still dying without any options.
Now, stories are being rewritten so that children in the north and in the south are beginning to see the remedy for the first time.
For many, it came just in time. For a few, their story ends with them not alone but instead surrounded by an entire team of doctors and nurses who gave it everything they had to save their life.
Shams’ story ended that way. It ended with her family being surrounded by a community who had grown to love them deeply.
Bringing remedy to Iraq doesn’t mean we make heart disease a thing of the past. It means that every child born with heart disease has access to the care that they need to fight it.
And that’s why, during days like today, we don’t lose hope. That’s why we honor Shams and her family by not giving up the hope that soon no Iraqi children will have to wait as long as she did to be treated.
Thanks for standing alongside us, in the joy and in the pain.
Thank you for continuing to rewrite the stories of children and families all across Iraq.
July 11, 2010 by Sophia · Comments Off
On a house visit last week I noticed Chro’s tiny bright-pink fingernails and toenails as she sat squeamishly on her father’s lap. Chro is one of five children going to surgery on July 18.
Her father is a policeman, a civil servant in charge of protecting their village; but right now he is focused on protecting his little girl by sending her to surgery. At 2 years old, Chro is battling the heart disease inside her chest.
As I sat with her family on the knit rugs that lined their living room floor, Chro’s eyes anxiously looked around. She started to whimper a faint cry because her lungs can hardly provide enough oxygen for the deep breaths that are required to shed many tears.
She was scared.
I could only imagine what might be going through Chro’s head. She is a little girl, who will soon be getting on a plane and flying to a foreign country only to have her small heart cut open and restored. Can she possibly grasp the magnitude of lifesaving heart surgery? I cannot possibly understand what it feels like to be a scared two-year-old with shortness of breath and probing doctors.
After I asked Chro’s family about her likes, her mother, a sturdy Kurdish woman with a protruding pregnant belly, smiled and said, “Dolls, lollipops and ice cream.”
I realized that Chro is a normal little girl. In spite of facing a disease that threatens to take her life, she is a little girl who likes lollipops, rainbows, baby dolls and bright pink. I think we have more in common than I first thought.
July 4, 2010 by Lydia · Comments Off
Dr. Aso screens a child for heart disease at the children’s hospital here in Iraq. Dr. Aso is the leading pediatric cardiologist in Kurdistan and works closely with PLC! He’ll be a major part of Remedy next month!
June 25, 2010 by Lydia · Comments Off
During a home visit this week, Danar and his brother fight for the camera’s attention. Danar had surgery a few months ago and has recovered so well. He loves to run and play, these guys are so much fun to watch!
June 24, 2010 by Lydia · Comments Off
Little Honya peeks out from behind her mother in the kitchen, so cute! This is from our most recent home visit with Honya, she is so healthy and happy!
June 14, 2010 by Lydia · Comments Off
A local pharmacist stands behind the counter of her pharmacy here in Iraq.
June 12, 2010 by Lydia · Comments Off
The summer interns visited a children’s hospital in the area to talk with Dr. Aso, who will be part of the Remedy mission this summer. Dr. Aso is a hugely important pediatric cardiologist for all the children of Iraq!