"It always seems impossible until it's done." —Nelson Mandela
We ended 2012 celebrating the 300th surgery since our beginning in 2007! As we begin 2013, we are looking forward to 300 more before the end of the year.
This year we aim to double the number of children we have helped in just ⅕ of the time. We will also double the number of cities we are working in and double the amount of education and training we are able to provide—daunting goals. But, really, it doesn't seem too daunting after the mountains we've already scaled together.
There was a time when sending Iraqi Muslim children to Israel seemed like it would never work. Then there was the fatwa that called for our punishment and death for sending those kids to Israel.
Becoming a full-service, turn-key operation by sending children to Turkey once seemed impossible.
Our dream of hosting surgery teams inside Iraq to operate and train locals took years to realize and seemed more than a little crazy when the country was falling apart around us.
And even after we successfully brought these teams to cities all over the country, the idea of replicating it in an historically difficult city like Fallujah seemed even crazier.
But, with your help and with the help of our excellent partners, we've accomplished all of those things—and now we're headed back to Fallujah again.
Remedy Mission XV begins this week. The first step of our journey toward 300 more surgeries begins now!
We promise it'll be worth your while.
For the impossible,
There are lots of ways to give this Christmas, but what better way than by helping save the life of a child?
You're reading this because you're already a making a difference—you've helped us save hundreds of lives in Iraq.
Here are three ways you can keep making a difference this Christmas:
#2: Party for life: Invite your friends over, crack open the eggnog, and save a life this Christmas. Each year parties are thrown to help raise awareness and money for heart surgeries in Iraq—talk about a great Christmas tradition!
You can also click here to throw an online party—a fundraising campaign to raise money with your friends. (When you start a campaign this month and let us know about it, we'll celebrate with you by mailing you a free Remaking The World tee!)
#3: Save a child, honor a friend: Give to a child in Iraq in honor of your friends and family this Christmas—just click here to donate give on behalf of a loved one. Then reply to this email and we'll send you a free PLC card to help you honor them!
So let the season begin, and join us in saving lives this Christmas!
Quiz time! What kinds of nurses and doctors does it take to pull off one of our Remedy Missions? Any guesses?
[Imaginary] you: “Uhhhh… a surgeon. And nurses. Aaand…others?”
That’s what I thought. You guys are insanely compassionate do-gooders who save lives, but we’ve failed you. We’ve spent so much time introducing you to the children you’re saving that we never introduced you to the people who are doing the saving!
But that’s about to change, starting today.
This is the first of a series where we’ll introduce you to the fantastic volunteer doctors and nurses who are saving lives and helping us eradicate The Backlog. And—since they come on most missions—we’re starting with the respiratory therapist, or ‘RT’ for short.
So I’ve asked Rachel Gulden, a friend and registered respiratory therapist, to share a bit about her work and what it entails:
After surgery, kids require a lot of care, and their breathing can be difficult to monitor and maintain. Rachel explains:
With technology as advanced as it is, some ventilators actually have automated settings that would work for some children. But that’s only some children. Most cases require hands-on, fine-tuned ventilation that is specific to them. And it’s not easy to teach, but I’m still trying to teach the basics to the local Iraqi ICU nurses here.
So there’s a quick introduction to the Respiratory Therapist, an important member of the medical teams taking care of these children. Considering you’re helping us provide plane tickets to these teams, we think it’s important for you to know what kind of care you’re providing.
Come back for our upcoming Remedy Mission XIV (that’s 14 for you non-Romans) and we’ll introduce you to another team member and their role. Thanks for reading!
Take 2 minutes to watch this interview with Noman, a university professor whose only son, Salam, was born with a life-threatening heart defect.
This is just one example of the difference you can make in the lives of Iraqi families! Please consider helping us save more like Salam by donating at the link below.
Help us save more children like Salam!
We’re halfway through Remedy Mission XII, and that means something sweet: a day off.
On previous Remedy Missions, I used this day to catch up on big projects or even to grab a few extra hours of sleep. As you can probably imagine, these missions that you help us put on are intense.
We arrive at the hospital at 8am and usually stay there until 8 or 9 at night; if an operation goes longer, the team sometimes stays past midnight. After a week of this, a day off is essential for the team to refuel.
Many of these doctors and nurses use their vacation time to come on trips like this—that means they’re using their vacation to work harder than they would at home!
But the mid-mission trip is a good opportunity for the team to enjoy a little time away from the hospital, and for this mission we went to the ancient city of Babylon and Saddam’s vacated former palace.
Iraq, as I’m sure you know, is a place with a lot of history; The Cradle of Civilization, as it’s often called. And a lot of cool stuff that you’ve probably heard of was invented here: farming, cities, writing, and the wheel, just to name a few.
For me personally, it’s an interesting place because of the Biblical references. I grew up reading and hearing about Babylon, I had read the history—the words—and I knew the city existed, but visiting it and taking pictures of it with my own eyes made it so much more real—it offered me a reference point.
And that’s really my hope for you as you see photos and watch videos of these children you’re helping us save. I wish each of you could come to a Remedy Mission and to walk the halls of a hospital in-the-flesh, but I hope the hundreds of sweet, needy faces that we put in front of you will make this fact more and more real to you: The Backlog exists, and it isn’t ancient history.
At least not yet!
After an hour of trying to keep up with our tour guides, we piled into a van and drove up the hill to one of Saddam’s old palaces (pictured in the photo above behind the Lion). The photos below show a little of what we saw, including the basketball hoop in Saddam’s living room (presumably left by Coalition forces?).
Barbed wire blocking the stairway to the second floor of the palace.
A makeshift basketball hoop hung in the former sitting room of the palace.
The rebuilt ruins of Babylon as seen from Saddam’s palace window.
Ali, one of our security guards, with the ceiling of the living room behind him.
Have you ever wondered what a surgery actually looks like? Have you ever wanted to peek into the O.R. to see what it takes to save a child’s life?
So I got permission from the local surgeons to set my camera up outside the operating theatre—for 7 hours! Little Hussain’s operation had a few twists and turns, but sitting outside that door watching it all unfold was well worth it, and now you can do the same. Click the video above (or click here) to watch the lifesaving surgery you gave to Hussain!
Would you like to make more surgeries like this possible? We’re going back to this same operating room in just a couple weeks, and we need your help saving more lives. Click here to donate directly, or go start your own fundraiser here—we love doing this alongside you!
Remember this little boy?
Last February, I met Nassir and his father, who agreed to help me make a video sharing their surgery-search. It was my first time to do something like this and, as I’m sure you can imagine, it was a highly emotional experience.
Nassir’s father drove all over Iraq looking for a solution to his son’s heart problem. Many could tell him that his son was going to die, yet none could do anything to help. It was, as he described it, “a bad dream.” His boy couldn’t even run, play soccer, or ride a bike.
Then, just a few days ago I rounded a hospital corner and Nassir and his father were standing there; they had come back for a check-up. After exchanging formalities, Nassir grinned and stuck his elbow in my face. “He hurt his arm riding his bike!” his father said, smiling. “That’s awesome!” I practically shouted back.
After we parted ways last February, Nassir went home, started racing other kids, and finally began getting the right kinds of hurts: scrapes and bruises, not a malformed heart or a pried-open chest.
They also showed me that they received the video we’d made together, and dad explained that he keeps it on his cell phone and shows anyone who will watch—“I tell them what you all did for me and my boy.”
I had several other things planned for that morning, but I couldn’t help dropping it all and sitting with Nassir’s father, re-watching that video on his phone, and listening as the cardiologist gave Nassir a clean bill of health. It was beautiful.
You and the rest of the Coalition made all this happen, and I hope you know how grateful Nassir, his father, and I are to you for that. You helped bring them out of their bad dream; you made it possible for us to celebrate scrapes!
Before surgery, the cardiologist has to take another look at Hussain’s heart to make sure he’s ready for surgery.
Thankfully, the results were good: he can receive an operation. Now he and his father just have to do the hardest work of all—wait. Dad barely let go of Hussain’s hand throughout this process. It’s been sweet to watch how close the two of them are. Please pray for Hussain’s healing, and that the operation would be a complete success.
Now we just wait for Hussain to be called in for the operation. More updates to come…
We’re back in Najaf for Remedy Mission XI, and the surgeries are well underway! Push play to hear our surgery count so far and how the local doctors are reacting to these fantastic training opportunities.
Keep watching to see updates of Hussain—we hear he’s in the hospital! This is the third of several operating room updates that we’ll be sending you, so keep watching and visit our Facebook page to see more photos from the hospital.
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!