January 20, 2012 by Cody · Comments Off
Does this look like a boy who just had an open heart surgery 26 hours ago? I didn’t think so!
I got a phone call from Ali early this morning telling me not to bother looking for him in the ICU anymore. I walked into the hospital to find him walking around in the ward!
Not only that, but he was already asking me when he can go home. Ali still really wants to be a doctor, so maybe one day he’ll understand how important this time is in the hospital.
But I love that he’s still a 12 year-old boy who can’t wait to go home and play soccer with his friends. At this rate, who knows, he could even be home by tomorrow!
June 15, 2011 by Jeremy · Comments Off
At exactly this time last year, Hafez (pictured above) was facing down the worst Father’s Day of his life as he desperately worked against the clock to save his son’s life.
At exactly this time last year, we asked for your help… and you came through in a huge way, raising more than $30,000 in just a few weeks so we could launch our first-of-its-kind Remedy Mission inside Iraq.
At exactly this time last year, you made this father’s day and helped secure for him a happier life than the one he was facing without you.
Meet Abdul Kareem – the son of my friend, Hafez. When I met them, they did not have the money to pursue surgery outside of Iraq like all the rich people, people with political clout, or the lottery winners.
I’ll never forget Hafez’s plea to me – certainly the same plea I would make on behalf of my son – “Just do something for him. He’s just a little boy.” He got so emotional that he excused himself from my office. This father, having done all he could for his son, walked away from the office crying. Abdul Kareem needed heart surgery before his first birthday or he was likely to become entirely inoperable – “a lost cause.”
But you weren’t about to let that happen!
The day our surgical team arrived from all over the world for Remedy Mission I, Hafez must have seen us on the news because he called me ten times: “Is my boy going to surgery? Mr. Jeremy, just do something to help my little boy!”
His boy was going to surgery, thanks to those of you who gave in response to our request last year’s for Father’s Day and our Remedy Mission launch!
There is another moment with my friend Hafez that I won’t forget – the day his son Abdul Kareem had surgery. I remember it so distinctly because after the surgery Hafez grabbed me, kissed me, and gave me an
tearful “thank you” for keeping our word; for saving his son’s life.
tearful “thank you” for keeping our word; for saving his son’s life.
Once Abdul Kareem was discharged to return home, Hafez sent me a message from the road. The message said something like, “Thank you so much for your organization and for helping my little boy. We will not forget you.“ With tears running down his face, he wanted to thank you each by name. You made a father’s dream come true. And you prevented his big brother, Abbas, from growing up without a soccer-buddy.
Dad, I love all the great memories we’ve made together. This year, I wanted to add, “saving a child’s life in Iraq” to the list, so that another child and his father can make great memories together too.
|We want to make it easy for you to honor your dad this Father's Day and help save the life of baby Ghazel. A simple $10 donation will help us save her life and cover the cost of two hours of hands-on training with local Iraqi surgeons! A $25 donation will accomplish that and add hours of training in Iraq for an additional three Iraqi doctors and nurses! If you like, we'll even provide you with a free downloadable card that you can print and give to your dad this Father's Day!|
Moustafa’s parents spent years scouring hospitals across Iraq in search of someone who could fix their little boy’s heart.
Doctors eventually told them that he had no hope in his home country and that they needed to go to India, which meant Moustafa would never receive surgery since his parents could never afford to send him abroad.
But thanks to you Remedy Mission is here, and Moustafa is finally receiving his heart surgery!
In many ways, Moustafa is pretty similar to the other 6-year-old boys I know. His father, mother (who’s always by his side), and older brother all love him very much. He’s energetic and loves to play – especially soccer. But unfortunately I didn’t get to meet Moustafa at the park, or at his school. My first glimpse of him was in the children’s ward of a hospital awaiting surgery.
But all that has the chance to be fixed starting right now, and I’m eager to hear good news of a successful surgery. Keep reading for updates!
May 29, 2011 by Alex · Comments Off
When I met Haydar he was kicking a soccer ball around the hospital hallway. We played there in the hallway for quite some time, kicking and throwing the ball back and forth between the three of us. I made my arms like a hoop in front of me and Haydar would shoot the ball through them—he’s a pretty good shot for a 6 year old!
Because there are so many children here in need of heart surgery, and because cuteness and playfulness are not criteria we get to use in determining the order for surgeries (unfortunately), Haydar ended up being further down on the surgery list.
But thankfully, after patiently waiting in the hospital and always trying to show us how brave and prepared he was, Haydar is finally getting his surgery! We couldn’t think of a better way to wind down as we near the end of our trip—thank you for helping us bring the Remedy to Haydar!
December 9, 2010 by Cody · Comments Off
This is Anwar. He’s homeless. He was also born with a congenital heart defect.
If you spend any time with Anwar and his mother, you quickly learn that they wouldn’t want any of those things to define them. Anwar would rather be known for his love for soccer. He’s in 1st grade but he can’t stand school, mainly because it takes him away from his father.
His father is a skilled farmer. They used to live down by the Kuwait-Iraq border and work on a farm where Anwar loved nothing else but to spend the whole day working alongside his dad.
Then the land ran out of water and they were forced to move further north.
When Anwar was one month old they found out about his heart defect. They traveled to Basra to see local doctors but they told them that they didn’t have the equipment they needed to save Anwar’s life. Even if they were able to buy the equipment, they still needed to be trained on how to use it. Regardless, they told them to just “wait a little longer”.
They went back every month to see if the machines arrived but for 6 years they were continually turned away.
Anwar’s only choice was to go overseas to a country that had the right machines and the doctors who knew how to use them. But it was a choice his family couldn’t even consider because of the cost.
Whatever savings they had was continually being put towards staying warm in the winter. If Anwar gets cold, his body begins to shake and his heart condition worsens. Because of that, all their money goes towards buying kerosene to keep the heaters burning.
This winter that kerosene bill may just be a little less because Anwar heads into surgery within the next hour! The doctors have the machines they’ve been waiting for and now they’re receiving the training they need to use the machines for the very first time!
Now, Anwar truly only has to wait “a little longer.”
August 24, 2010 by Cody · Comments Off
Ahmed is now one day closer to seeing his parents. His days of fighting against a completely broken heart are over! What’s ahead of him? Everything! His family, his home, his friends, his school, soccer and anything else any normal four year old with a strong heart would look forward to.
Today, I’m pretty sure I caught Ahmed daydreaming about all of those things as he just spent time relaxing before heading home sometime this week.
I remember meeting Ahmed just last week, with his knees to his chest because that was the only position in which he could breath properly. Now he’s sprawled out on his bed with candy wrappers all around him.
We are looking forward to our last few days with Ahmed and his uncle. Will we miss them? Of course! But we can’t wait for his parents to see him with a healthy, happy heart thanks to you!
Remedy Missions are international pediatric heart surgery teams that we bring to Iraq to to perform lifesaving heart surgeries and develop the infrastructure for the future. If you’re on Twitter this week be sure to use the #Remedy or #RemedyMission hashtag to describe all the good news coming out of Iraq this week via @preemptivelove and @babyheart_org. If you’re on Facebook, “Share” this story with the button below.
July 12, 2010 by Sophia · Comments Off
The hot desert sun beams down upon wreckage from the days of Saddam’s rule; and big houses, now broken down into cement blocks, line the dusty streets.
A modest white home is nestled in the midst of the rubble. And coming from the house were the sounds of dishes clanking in the kitchen, a TV blaring, a little boy’s laughter.
That little boy is 5 year-old Yahya, one of my favorites who is about to make the trip to Istanbul this Saturday for heart surgery. Much awaits Yahya. He is getting a new valve put into his heart, a new lease on his young life.
But for now, he is at home. While visiting him and his family in their home last week, I noticed Yahya in the living room playing a soccer-themed video game and giggling with his best friend, Ahmed.
Yahya loves video games. Normally very shy and reserved, his demeanor was relaxed and comfortable when he pretended to be the famous Argentinian soccer player, Lionel Messi. Yahya told his father that when he grows up, he wants to be Messi.
Yahya’s upcoming surgery gives us hope that one day he will overcome his disease and put aside his soccer video games in order to play like a real soccer star outside under the Iraqi sun.
July 1, 2010 by Alex · Comments Off
When I visted Ahmad earlier this week, I was struck by two objects that embodied the effect PLC has had on the life of a child who has undergone heart surgery.
The first was the metal staircase leading up to their home on the second level of the block. This old staircase was red, rickety, and full of holes — a lot like Ahmad’s heart was a year and a half ago. Ahmad had one of the most complex cases of heart disease PLC has seen. His combination of defects turned his lips, hands and feet blue from lack of oxygen and assured that he would not have a normal or lasting childhood. But thanks to your support, commitment from his family and the skill of medical professionals in Iraq and Turkey, Ahmad could greet us at the top of the stairs with a smile on his face.
Ahmad’s medical story is not finished. He still has some blue to his lips and will need more surgeries down the line; but a second powerful image — that of a tattered and beaten up soccer ball — made me realize how much of an impact his first surgery truly had.
Worn out soccer balls are certainly not uncommon in Iraq, and I probably wouldn’t have given Ahmad’s ball a second thought if his mother had not pointed out that this was the same ball that was given to him by PLC just a year ago. Ahmad, a boy who had not been able to run last year because of fatigue from a lack of oxygen, had beaten his new soccer ball to shreds playing with friends.
This is the impact Ahmad’s surgery has had. He may not have a totally corrected heart yet, but he does have a childhood — full of running, playing, laughing, falling, scraping knees and wearing out soccer balls.
June 24, 2010 by Preston · Comments Off
Two things I really looked forward to before coming to Iraq this summer were working with children who need heart surgery and playing soccer. While I have been here, I’ve been able to enjoy both of these passions, and a few times I’ve been able to do both at the same time.
While watching the World Cup match between France and South Africa this week, I met a man sitting next to me and struck up a conversation about soccer. After a few seconds of getting to know each other, I relayed to him that I was working for kids with heart conditions, and he told me that his cousin has two kids who have congenital heart disease. At that moment it occurred to me just how rampant CHD actually is in this country. In fact, this is only one of many times this same situation has occurred. Just a week before that, a friend and I walked into a tea shop to watch soccer, and I met two men who also have family members with the same problem of CHD.
A day or so later, after playing a pick-up soccer game with some local guys, the other male interns and I were called over so that the guys we played with could tell us about their cousins who have congenital heart disease. In each situation, we were able to connect our friends with PLC so their little cousins could receive help.
Two of my passions have collided — a passion to play and a passion to help. Coming into this summer I knew about the problem of heart disease in Iraq, but being here has made the issue personal. There are so many kids that need heart surgery — so many that sometimes I cannot go through daily experiences (like watching a soccer game) without hearing about another child who needs surgery.
Congenital heart disease is embedded in life here, and soccer has been one way that I’ve seen the prevalence of it in the country. I hope that one day, with the help of your donations to PLC, many of these kids will be running, kicking and playing with a healthy heart of their own.
June 23, 2010 by Claire · Comments Off
Last week a small group of PLC staff and interns visited Yousif in his village. As we wove through neighborhoods I noticed the muted and dull colors of the concrete walls, gates, roads and air. Amidst the tan, beige and dirt-colored village I kept seeing flashes of bright blues, oranges and reds — colors of the town’s vibrantly dressed residents behind gates and in shops. Their clothes fought my initial impression of his village. When we drove in, it almost looked like a ghost town, but once I started to see the villagers I saw the life and personality of the people shown through their clothing.
We arrived at Yousif’s home, and I was privileged to meet a woman whose personality quite literally burst through the front gate. Yousif’s mother had been summoned in from the field by her daughters because of our arrival. She flew in holding Yousif’s hand, wearing a work shirt and a pair of tattered juli kurdi pants — baggy pants traditionally reserved for men only. This woman oozed strength, confidence and know-how. She appeared as if she could build a house from the ground up, run a farm and raise her 10 children all at the same time. This was a woman I should learn from. There is a good chance I will never work as hard in a week as she does in a day.
Four of Yousif’s sisters brought us water, tea, grapes and cucumbers. Lessons in hospitality are not only something I could learn from this family but from all the Iraqi people. Despite the delicious drinks and snacks it was not long before we were itching to play with the kids. Little did Yousif know, there was a soccer ball in the car with his name on it. Yousif and his siblings had few toys and had to borrow a ball from kids down the street during PLC’s last visit. The ball was brought out and a game quickly ensued, but soon it came time to leave because Yousif’s mother had to get back to work.
As we were walking to the car Yousif’s brother ran out of the gate holding the soccer ball he thought we had forgotten. I was blown away. A child with very little access to his own soccer ball thought we had accidentally left behind this gift and instead of rejoicing and trying to keep it, he chased after us and attempted to give it back.
Time and time again I am humbled by the children and families we work with because of their dedication to hard work and hospitality. And through that dedication, I’ve seen that this family chose to focus on the vigor of life rather than on the fact that their family is dealing with a congenital heart defect.