From Korea to Iraq—Yunus Comes Home for Surgery

Three months in a Korean ICU.

That’s what Yunus faced last year when he traveled abroad looking for a lifesaving heart surgery.

As a one-year-old with Down syndrome, Yunus journeyed to South Korea with his daddy, four complex heart defects, and the hope that their nearly 5,000-mile quest would end in healing.

But then his Korean doctor described the length of the post-op recovery period.

Unwilling to remain so far away for so long, Yunus and his dad turned around and flew back home—without surgery.

But as a little boy with a dying heart, Yunus’s opportunities for medical care in Iraq were also scarce.

That is, until his family discovered the Remedy Fellowship program in Nasiriyah.

This program, which began in August 2012, is the result of a collaboration between us, Dr. Novick’s team from the International Children’s Heart FoundationLiving Light International, and local surgeon Dr. Akeel.

The 48-week-long training course instructs Iraqi doctors so children like Yunus can receive care from local, well-equipped surgical teams.

And in February, he did. Yunus and his family traveled south to Nasiriyah, where he received the lifesaving medical care he needed and drove home to recover.

We saw him again two weeks ago in northern Iraq, visiting Dr. Kirk’s team from For Hearts and Souls for a follow-up screening—his local doctor had noticed a dangerous amount of fluid filling in around Yunus’ heart and advised his family to see the international team. Dr. Kirk confirmed that the fluid needed to be drained, so he sent Yunus and his family down to Nasiriyah—back to Remedy Fellowship—to receive care once more.

Yunus is back home now, and doing well.

He won’t need to travel across the world for surgery or checkups anymore—no one will ever ask him to spend three months in an ICU thousands of miles from home—because heart surgery shouldn’t require world travel.

The Remedy Fellowship program gives Iraqi children like Yunus the gift of high-quality medical care in their own country—so when they get sick, they won’t have to travel the world in search for healing.