Assyrian Medical Society ~ Turkey Mission Release

ams-logo.jpgBy: Helen Talia, Chicago
A friend from Iraq writes, “there is nothing here but dust, gravel, and concrete walls. All over, life is wasted.” He asked me to send pictures of foliage ~ trees, grass, plants, flowers, you name it! He went on to say, “I am well aware that I still exist, but I want to make sure that no one has forgotten me. I feel as if everything around me is moving, except me.” There is something very unnatural about these words, when we no longer feel that we co-exist in our environment, as we struggle with the duality of reason and balance.
The probability of trying to save the lives of Iraqi children was not on the agenda of any humanitarian organization. Thirty-some years ago when Iraq was at its height and the Iraqi people lived in prosperity, the country produced some of the most renowned A-list physicians and educators known within Iraq and across its borders.
Since then, Iraq was rebuilt after the Iraq-Iran war, its infrastructure demolished again after it invaded Kuwait, followed by a U.S.-imposed embargo in 1991, and the Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
The aftermath has left a devastated nation, displaced within its own borders, and an infrastructure that continues to spiral downward, with no proper education or medical care. It is said that more than any other nation in the world, the global disbursement of the Iraqis today makes up the highest rate of international exile.
Each time the sound of a bomb is heard, a child is traumatized, while another is orphaned. Iraq has become a graveyard, and its terrain has turned into a wasteland. Insurgents attack neighborhoods and set-up fake checkpoints to kidnap innocent people for the sheer love of mutilation.
How many more lives will be sacrificed, and how much more suffering will this nation endure until it is released from the bondage of the debt it seems to have innocently incurred, not by its own admission, certainly not through its own fault. Is anybody listening?
The Gift of Life International, working concurrently with the Rotary Clubs International recently opened its gates to Iraqi children by providing them with the gift of heart surgeries with the assistance of the Assyrian Medical Society.
Thankfully, in neighboring country Turkey, the Rotary Clubs of Istanbul were far from turning a deaf ear to the cries of the Iraqi children who have paid an immeasurable price of pain and dwindling lives.
Not having proper communication channels in Iraq, the Rotary Clubs of Istanbul quickly turned to Rob Raylman, CEO of Gift of Life International, who established contact with the Assyrian Medical Society.
Therein Dr. Samir Johna from the Assyrian Medical Society in United States contacted its infrastructure in Iraq to locate and identify children who were born with debilitating heart conditions.
Back in Iraq, the response of Dr. Srood Maqdosy from Erbil and Dr. Ahmed Kasim from Basra was swift. In a matter of days they prescreened and selected the patients, with no regards to ethnic or religious backgrounds. The patients were then transported to Istanbul, Turkey where their surgeries were performed and recoveries took place before heading back home to Iraq.
 The Rotary Clubs of Istanbul, Turkey has provided five heart surgeries for Iraqi children. In addition to surgery costs, food and lodging, sightseeing costs have been appropriated for all five children and their escorts, usually a family member.
Little known to the world, Salwan Raed Salim, our first patent, a 14 year-old boy was born with pulmonary valvular stenosis. He suffered from fatigability and heart palpitation, particularly following physical activity. He underwent a successful balloon angioplasty and is reported to be in an excellent condition. Since his surgery, he has returned home to Iraq.
Maia Mohanad Mikhael is our second patient, a 2 year-old child born with ventricular septal defect and subvalvular pulmonary stenosis. She underwent a successful open heart surgery, pulmonary valvuloplasty and closure of ventricular septal defect. She has been reported to be in an excellent condition and has returned home to Iraq.
Enabella Azad Yousif is our third patient, a 2 year-old child born with aortic stenosis and bicuspid aortic valve. An attempted balloon aortic valuloplasty had failed. This was followed by a successful open heart surgery, and aortic valvuloplasty. She has been reported to be in an excellent condition and has returned home to Iraq.
Ali Haider is our forth patient, a 3-year old child born with transposition of the great vessels. He had undergone a successful open heart surgery. He has been reported to be in an excellent condition and has returned home to Iraq.
And finally, Rawan Hazim Ali, is our fifth patient, a little over 2 year-old child born with tetralogy of fallot. He had undergone a successful open heart surgery for the repair of this birth defect. He is currently awaiting his final cardiac echo in Istanbul prior to returning back home to Iraq.
With the generosity of the Gift of Life International and the Rotary Clubs of Istanbul, Turkey, the Assyrian Medical Society is thankful for the conclusion of the cardiac mission for Iraqi children in Turkey.
Perhaps no other gift is more rewarding to be gotten than the gift of life. Humanitarians worldwide continue to do what they do best and that is to be humanitarians.
July 2009