June 30, 2010 by Preston · Comments Off
As a doctor, decisions that affect a person’s quality of life come with the job, and this is no different for our local cardiologist, Dr. Aso Faeq. While shadowing Dr. Aso in his office earlier this week, I witnessed how the problems in Iraq make these decisions even more difficult.
As I saw patient after patient visit Dr. Aso’s office last Wednesday, the fact that congenital heart disease is a rampant problem here in northern Iraq became blatantly obvious. Families drove for hours just to see this one cardiologist examine their child, and so many of them were told about the urgency of their child’s heart condition.
Though so many cases are urgent, Dr. Aso is restricted from the limited options he has available to him in Iraq. The lack of training and technology for doctors along with poverty and cultural dilemmas prevent many children from receiving surgery in the country. It’s hardships like these that affect Dr. Aso’s decision making every day.
One of his decisions that resonated with me concerned the fate of a three-month-old boy. His parents brought him to the office knowing he had a heart problem, but they needed Dr. Aso to examine and diagnose him. After a few seconds of doing the echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart), Dr. Aso’s whole demeanor changed instantly.
He explained to us that two of the little boy’s heart chambers were malformed and merged into a single chamber causing immense pressure to build in his heart. As the family and Dr. Aso discussed their options, the limitations became obvious. The surgery the child needs could be done in a town six hours away, but the family did not have the money to do this. On top of this, the next group of American non-profit surgeons who will perform local surgeries here does not arrive for another fifty days, which could be too late for the dying boy.
For a solid 10 minutes Dr. Aso did not say a word. He sat there, weighing the child’s options and deciding his fate. Imagine the immensity of this decision. Dr. Aso has basically been backed into a corner and told to make a decision on this child’s life. And so, he did. Waiting is the only option. He spoke to the parents, comforted them, signed the papers, and watched as the next patient walked in.
Dr. Aso often finds himself faced with difficult decisions, but with the options available to him he takes the initiative to make the best call for these children. These families are, in fact, some of the strongest people I have ever witnessed. They face impending tragedy while dealing with poverty and neglect. Sitting in Dr. Aso’s office, however, allowed me to see that real initiative can cause real change in the face of immense hardship.
People like Dr. Aso take this initiative as far as they can, and PLC hopes to offer opportunities for this initiative to be extended across the world. Whether it be through buying Klash from our Buy Shoes. Save Lives. program, supporting local healthcare through Remedy Mission, or creatively partnering with PLC to find new ways of providing these heart surgeries, you can also take the initiative to make a difference in childrens’ lives.