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 –>
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…
November 12, 2012 by matt · Comments Off
Zahraa isn’t in the best mood right now.
I was making ward rounds visiting families and I stopped in to check on her (catch up on her story here). Immediately after exchanging our ‘salaams’ her parents asked, “Can you tell what’s wrong? She won’t stop crying, she has a fever, and she is upset whenever we touch her.”
Now, I’ve already told you guys that I’m non-medical. I don’t claim to be a doctor. But I’ve picked up a few things about post-operative care from some of the nurses, and so, after a few minutes of discussion, it became apparent Zahraa was in pain because—wait for it—she hadn’t been given her pain meds.
Yes, I figured that out all by myself. Smart, huh?
To be serious, it’s extremely frustrating to think of Zahraa spending an entire night in pain just because a local doctor didn’t take the time to come check on her and give her the necessary medication.
But we aren’t here because the place has competent doctors—it’s actually quite the opposite! We choose to work in Iraq because it’s difficult and because doctors need to learn about things like how and when to distribute medication. Slowly but surely, mission by mission, our partner nurses are writing and enforcing protocols, the surgeons are teaching (and reteaching) surgical techniques, and things are improving.
But last night was a mistake. Zahraa’s parents and grandmother (pictured above cuddling with Zahraa) were worried sick. Being non-medical, they did what they could; they bought her outrageously large stuffed animals (pictured above), tried to hold her, sing for her—nothing worked.For all they knew, their daughter was dying. Thankfully, she wasn’t. I left and brought back one of the nurses to give a more proper inspection. Zahraa took her medicine and began feeling better just a few minutes later, and she’s been fine since then.
With that resolved and the doctor on duty reprimanded (not by me), I sat down to learn more about Zahraa, her parents, and their family’s surgery search. Her father explained that they learned of her heart problem when she was eight months old and that—thank God—she’s the only one in their family with a known heart problem.
When asked about their fears for Zahraa, her father shared,
Zahraa’s parents love her with such intensity that they were prepared to make as many sacrifices as it took to help their little girl. It was obvious, sitting in their hospital room, that they were telling the truth. I’d seen how the mother and grandmother cared for Zahraa, and how the father was constantly taking breaks from work to come check in.
But, thanks to you, Zahraa’s parents didn’t have to sell their home. After years of distress, their daughter is well on her way to recovery now, and she even has a home to go back to—thank you for saving her!
Help save more children like Zahraa now!
This little day-dreamer’s name is Zahraa. She’s 6 years old, and—you guessed it!—she really needs a heart surgery.
I only had limited time with Zahraa and her family before she was whisked away for surgery, but the parents seemed terrified for their daughter. A local doctor saw me watching them and shared, “They’re very poor. They don’t know anything at all about the outside world.”
This was a great reminder of the faith these parents have when they give their kids over to us for treatment. I’m sure it takes serious guts to pass your kid off to trained professionals whom you trust and know to be effective (and can communicate with), but to give your kid to strangers from another country? To people who dress, talk, and act in a way that is totally bizarre to you? Maybe even offensive?
I don’t envy them, but I do admire their courage.
Both daughter and her mother, as if on cue, burst into tears as Zahraa was pulled away and taken to the operating room.
Please pray that her surgery goes well, and we’ll have a video update on her progress for you in a few hours.
We’re back in Najaf for Remedy Mission XI, and the surgeries are underway!
Click the play button to meet our kind cardiologists (volunteers w/ the International Children’s Heart Foundation), and to hear more about their work so far.
Several children have now received operations and are doing well—we’ll introduce you to some of then soon.
This is the second of several operating room updates that we’ll be sending you, so keep watching and keep an eye on our Facebook page to see more!
Yousef went in for his catheterization yesterday and the results are in: the blood pressure in his lungs is abnormally high. While that isn’t lifethreatening, if it’s left unchecked, Yousef’s life could be on the line.
But there’s good news! Because we were able to catch the problem using the cath, Yousef is now a candidate for surgery so he can live a happy, healthy life!
I’m so humbled and happy to be saving lives in Fallujah. It has been my dream to help children here and now it’s coming true before my eyes, and it’s all thanks to your support (see below). We’re saving lives together, all across Iraq, and kids like Yousef will be forever changed.
Will you help us continue this lifesaving momentum? We’re buying medical supplies to prepare for our upcoming year of surgical training in Iraq, and we need your help! Donate below to help us mend kid’s hearts:
Our 85 suture kits are FULLY funded — Thank you for helping fund $765 worth of medical supplies!
Before a child hops up on the operating table, they must take their turn on the scale so the anesthesiologist can know the correct dosage to administer so they can sleep safely during their operation. Below are a few of the children who are lining up for their shot at a healed heart.
Come back over the next few days to meet these children and to hear their stories!
Our 85 suture kits are FULLY funded — Thank you for helping fund $765 worth of medical supplies!
Right off the bat, I got to be a part of something awesome here in Iraq.
I joined PLC’s groundbreaking research in the city of Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan. Many reports in recent years claim that there are more heart defects in Iraq than other countries in the Middle East. In Fallujah, news reports state 10 times more birth defects than the world average. However, these numbers are based on general observations, not a systematic study. Is it possible that doctors who only see sick children would think there are many more birth defects than there really are?
The best way to find out if there are more kids being born with broken hearts is to count all the children who are born, then see how many have heart defects are detected. That way, the number of healthy babies can be compared to the number of babies with defects to get an accurate ratio of sick to healthy babies. This is exactly what we did in the city of Dohuk.
Alongside long-time friend and partner of PLC, Dr. Kirk Milhoan and Dr. Serdar Pedawi, I was a part of a research team working to identify the heart defect “incidence” or number of new cases of babies born with heart defects out of all babies born over a certain time period. We set up camp at Azadi Teaching Hospital in Dohuk, and every child that was born came to us to be screened for heart defects.
This was done using an echocardiogram (ECHO) machine, which is similar to an ultrasound that allows pregnant mothers to see their babies. It provides a way to look at the heart from the outside, quickly and painlessly. All children born in Azadi Hospital during the week of the study had to be screened in order to obtain their birth certificate, so we were able to screen more than 180 kids!
Each individual encounter was very similar. The moms were usually too worn out from childbirth to bring the babies to us (understandably so!). It fell to the grandmothers and aunts to take care of the newborn while mom got some rest. It was beautiful to see how much love and care was shown to each baby we screened. They were all wrapped tightly in brightly colored clothes and tucked into what I can only describe as a fancy baby sleeping bag.
The children truly lived up to the phrase of “bundles of joy.” The pride and joy of family members was evident, but with it came the anxious fear that their baby could have something wrong with their heart. Immediately at the time of the screening we could tell the family the result of the ECHO.
Thankfully, the vast majority of children had completely normal hearts and their family was always relieved and ecstatic to hear the good news. But there were some babies who did indeed have heart defects. Some had leaky heart valves and others had holes in their heart. Assurance was given to the families that these were not immediately life-threatening emergencies, but that their baby needed to be checked again in a few weeks to see what kind of treatment would be needed to live a normal healthy life.
Dr. Serdar works full time as a Pediatric Cardiologist in Dohuk, and thus will take care of these babies directly. Research can sometimes be all about collecting numbers, but this research heavily emphasized providing practical medical care for those who were found to have heart defects.
It was an absolutely incredible experience to interact with the Kurdish and Arab families in Dohuk as well as to be a part of a first-ever scientific study. It was very fulfilling to contribute to the gathering of facts, which is a large part of why I’m pursuing a Master’s in Public Health. Having solid facts puts Preemptive Love Coalition that much closer to eradicating the backlog by treating kids who need lifesaving heart surgeries.
This research is the first step in providing information for the Kurdish Regional and Iraqi Central Government and any other organization that wants an answer to the question: how many Iraqi children are being born with heart defects?
April 12, 2012 by matt · Comments Off
“If we live skeptically and only by the principles of risk-management, I fear we’ll miss the opportunity to remake the world around us.”
On a recent trans-atlantic trip, Jeremy Courtney was invited to share about the concept of preemptive love at TEDxAustin’s 4th annual conference.
This talk differed from his TEDxBaghdad talk as he shared new stories and invited attendees to consider how they personally might “do preemptive love.” And the video presents the same question to you: what can you do—small or large—to remake the world today?
After watching the video, would you share it? Your ‘shares’ and support help make our work possible—they can help save lives!
February 15, 2012 by matt · Comments Off
Doctors assigned little Nassir a number—119—and then told him to get in line.
“Should I get a hotel near the hospital for a few days?” his father asked. “No, come back in 5 or 6 years.” So Nassir’s father went home dejected with nothing to do but wait. But waiting could render Nassir inoperable, and then it would be too late.
But, thanks to you, Nassir and his family are getting another chance. Click here to listen to a father tell of his search for a surgery.