Blog :

The Hardest ‘Yes’ of Ramadan’s Life

The Hardest ‘Yes’ of Ramadan’s Life

2015.05.16.Libya.Cute.Kids.Fuji.Echo.25

A terrified, skinny boy arrived at the hospital. The cardiologist from Benghazi is looked at his heart, recommending urgent surgery. 

“Ramadan, will you let them operate on you?”

The 14 year-old has heard this question again and again for the past seven years. “Will you accept?”

His answer is always the same: “No.”

Fatherless and culturally an adult, Ramadan is old enough to make his own decision whether or not he will undergo surgery. He is also old enough to know what this will mean, what the process will be like, and what the outcome could be.

“He’s too afraid, he won’t accept,” his mother shared later. 

Ramadan lives in Derna, a Libyan city with heavy jihadist leanings and that was recently under ISIS control, but his heritage is southern Libyan, what many people here call “original Libyan.”

2015.05.21.Libya.Hospital.ICU.Ramadan_5
Arabs, Greeks, Italians, Turks, and others have conquered and settled this part of the world, but Ramadan’s people were here long before that.

The cardiologist slides her probe over the bumps of Ramadan’s ribs as Dr. Novick leans forward, looks in his eyes, and says “Ramadan, we can make you feel better.”

Someone translates the words as Ramadan stares back.

His mother wipes Ramadan’s chest and helps pull his shirt down, a worried expression on her face. Ramadan’s face is blank the entire time.

Goodbyes are said, and the family begins to leave.

A few feet from the door, the cardiologist calls out more time: “Ramadan, will you let them operate on you?” 

“…yes.”

2015.05.21.Libya.Hospital.ICU.Ramadan_80

A few days later, Doctor Novick and the team gave Ramadan the lifesaving heart surgery he needed, his recovery went beautifully, and he even told Stacey he didn’t want to leave! Thank you for sending our teams to serve children on the margins, in war-torn, ISIS-disputed territory like Libya.

You are giving families the chance to finally say “yes.”

Help Ecuador!

Help Ecuador!

 

The recent earthquake in Ecuador has devastated the country, the death toll rises each day and thousands of people are injured and homeless. We at Cardiac Alliance want to extend our sympathy and support to our friends and colleagues who are working to alleviate the suffering caused by this tragedy.

ecuador earthquake. JPEG

As aid pours into the country from all sides we ask that you help us to support our dear friends at ‘Fundacion El Cielo Para Los Ninos”,  (Heaven for Children). This organisation is based in Guayaquil, Ecuador and has been providing medical and surgical care for children and families since 1991.

13012816_1349458081736156_5444941992419594335_n

The director of this organisation Dr. Zorayda Figueroa Aguiar has lost family members in this tragedy and despite her personal losses she has committed to continue her work for the children of Ecuador. Please help us to support Fundacion El Cielo Para Los Ninos as they continue their vital work by clicking here to donate.

Before & After: Taleen’s Surgery Made All The Difference!

Before & After: Taleen’s Surgery Made All The Difference!

2015.11.10.Libya.Talen.Monsour.ICU-2

Every year in Libya, an estimated 400 – 600 babies are born whose tiny little hearts need medical care—and often surgery—within the first year of life.

Babies just like Taleen.

Precision is vital in any heart surgery. But when the patient is a baby, the stakes are even higher… and the margin of error slimmer.

Some kids, however, can’t afford to wait until they’ve gotten bigger.

There was nothing simple about Taleen’s operation in Libya last November. There were several anxious days after her surgery, when she hovered precariously between the edge of a cliff and the road to recovery.

2015.11.9.Libya.Talen.Monsour.ICU-2

Taleen is a fighter, though. Her transformation from broken heart to healthy heart did not come easily, but it came—and it was remarkable.

A few days after doctors operated on her tiny heart, Taleen was taking a bottle…

2015.11.14.Libya.Talen.Monsour.ICU-2

Locking eyes with her mom…

2015.11.11.Libya.Talen.Monsour.ICU-4

And wriggling around like she had some place to go.

2015.11.9.Libya.Talen.Monsour.ICU-11

And you know what? Taleen did have somewhere to go: home.

2015.11.10.Libya.Talen.Monsour.ICU

2015.11.11.Libya.Talen.Monsour.ICU-2

2015.11.13.Libya.Talen.Monsour.ICU

No Boys’ Club—Meet The Strong Libyan Doctors We’re Training

No Boys’ Club—Meet The Strong Libyan Doctors We’re Training

Dr-Wegdan-7356sized

Dr. Wejdan is one of the incredible Libyan surgeons we are helping train in Libya. 

When she was just 5 years old, she told her mother she wanted to be a heart surgeon someday. Her mother had no idea that her daughter even knew what a surgeon was!

2015.05.23.Libya.Tobruk-2256sized

Dr. Rasmia didn’t intend to become a doctor: “My teacher in school, he asked me to finish in engineering because I was fantastic in engineering.” Now a cardiologist, Rasmia changed the direction of her life completely when tragedy struck.

“My father died a sudden death, and he collapsed in front of me when I was in second year high school. So I decided, from that time, that I must be a doctor to save people, because I couldn’t save my family.”

2015.02.07.Tobruk.Libya.Fuji._21sized

Dr. Naima, one of the top cardiologists in Libya, was hand-picked by her mentor. “There were a lot of choices for me.” she explained.

“By chance, there was a doctor called Dr. Abdul Mahmood. He was the first pediatric cardiologist in Libya. He was working at that time in the hospital, and I was working in his unit.”

“He, this doctor, chose us…he sent my name and the name of Rasmia to the people controlling the hospital.” He said ‘I need these two doctors to come and train…to be a pediatric cardiologist in the future.’ Really, he was the one to choose us.”

After two years of training, learning how to diagnose heart problems in children, Dr. Mahmood left Libya. He left Dr. Naima and Dr. Rasmia as the only ones to carry on the work. “So, at that time, there was no choice at all for us”. Dr. Naima said, “…we had to continue. And it started like that. It was really hard.”

In the late 1990’s there was no internet in Libya to consult. Dr. Naima and Dr. Rasmia no longer had a mentor to learn from. And they had no colleagues to share the burden.

“Really, our teachers were the patients.”

2015.05.14.Libya.Baby.Echo_2sized

In-fighting and sanctions left Libya cut off from much of the world, and most aid groups have pulled out. The international doctors and nurses who come to Libya provide the only opportunity for pediatric heart doctors to learn more in their field. These Libyan doctors work hard and spend weeks away from their families to take full advantage of every learning opportunity!

2015.05.15.Libya.ICU.OR_8

The cardiologists who diagnose these defects take time to observe surgeries, to learn as much as possible about the hearts they typically only see on a screen. The heart surgeon sits in on diagnosis sessions, to learn from the imaging of individual hearts before a cut is ever made. Everyone attends post-surgical sessions in the ICU, to give feedback on surgeries, the progress of patient healing and possible complications.

The-Doctors-7785sized

They create a climate of collaboration—there is no competition here. They encourage each other and push each other forward. They work together to give patients the very best care, and to learn as much from each other as possible.

2015.05.23.Libya.Tobruk-7697size

Their passion and collaborative approach is creating a strong programme, and an environment for constant learning and growth. Their openness makes space for the next generation of medical residents, who come whenever they can spare the time, to observe and learn.

2015.05.23.Libya.Tobruk-2271sized

“Naima and I, we were suffering a lot” Dr. Rasmia emphasized “because we were the only ones to do echoes at that time. Now we have a lot of cardiologists. And all of them are female…”