Cuts that Heal: How Heart Surgeries Are Transforming Iraq

NOTE: This is a guest post from Matt Willingham, Press Secretary for Preemptive Love Coalition.

With the media now focused on Syria, Egpyt, and other parts of the Middle East, the word “Iraq” only brings up distant, unpleasant memories. After a decade of reporting front-page news–most of it bad–about the war in Iraq, publications are eager to move on.

But the fallout from decades of difficulty is still fresh on the minds of many Iraqi families, and there is no “moving on” for them. They are angry and despondent as only parents can be, and the reason is simple: their children are dying. Iraqi cities are reporting a massive spike in birth defects–primarily heart defects–and many Iraqis blame the war for the rise in malformities.

The outrage over this growing birth-defect backlog is only compounded by a healthcare system in shambles. Hospitals are scrambling to recover after many of their best doctors either fled or were assassinated. Sadly, there isn’t a single Iraqi surgeon capable of treating these heart defects, and there are an estimated 35,000 children waiting in line for a lifesaving surgery right now.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the bad news can be fixed–it isn’t hopeless! The Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC) is an American nonprofit based in Iraq that works to eradicate this backlog of children waiting in line for heart surgery, and they are accomplishing this by hosting surgical training missions. International teams of teacher-doctors come to Iraq year-round to save lives and train locals so they can eventually won’t need our help.

PLC stands for empowering locals so that one day they can save their own children. To make that a reality, theyʼre establishing enough heart centers in Iraq so that every child born with a heart defect will be within a two hour drive of a lifesaving surgery.

But what good is it if surgical centers are established and then bombed, or if medical personnel are trained and then killed? While PLC obviously can’t facilitate nationwide reconciliatory peace single-handedly, these surgical missions are designed to create beautiful opportunities for peace as Sunnis, Shias, Americans, Arabs, Kurds and other “at-odds” communities come together to save lives.

When one enemy saves your child’s life, how would that affect you? Multiply that by thousands, and whole communities–even cities–could be transformed.


As Preemptive Love Coalition‘s Press Secretary, Matt Willingham uses words and media to connect hearts and minds to Iraqi children in need. By the end of 2012, PLC hopes to be working in 5 cities across Iraq and saving hundreds of lives per year. But for this dream to become a reality, it requires an entire Coalition of like-minded people rallying around children in need. Join up, come say “hello,” and find out more on PLC’s Facebook page.

 

Photo by Lydia O'Neil Bullock.

20 comments

Matt Willingham
Matt Willingham4 years ago

@Colin K: Thanks for the thoughts, but your comment makes some serious assumptions/accusations about our work without gathering the necessary details.

We also take issue with hegemonic corporatocracies and their use of chemical weaponry (particularly depleted uranium) to further their own financial agenda at the expense of innocent people--we're not unaware of it! But we also aren't about to let it cripple us into inaction. We will get more done (read: save thousands of lives) by sitting at the table with crooked men than by isolating ourselves and pursuing activism from a keyboard.

Colin K N A U F
Colin K4 years ago

American corporatocracy (multi national corporations running the country) is not half as stupid as they likes their puppets to appear in efforts to further their cupidity. It makes its billions on selling the munitions, caskets and then the cement and equipment to rebuild all they blew up. The radiation from their armour piercing ballistics is causing the epigenetic 'heartaches' for parents and babes. It is the best possible sales tool to inflate the profits of the military and medical hegemony of America— as the key to supplying all the machines, diagnostic equipment to outfit all the rebuilt or new hospitals. The sad part is, these behemoth corporations, like Bush's company Halliburton; pay fewer taxes than the people. That is why America can't afford to buy wheel chairs for its valiant vets, driven into war with substandard supplies like humvees missing armoured flooring. You can bet the consortiums got top dollar for inferior equipment and then even more for the ambulances and bandages. Why no start a war and have a perpetual income stream from repeat customers?

Colin K N A U F
Colin K4 years ago

American corporatocracy (multi national corporations running the country) is not half as stupid as they likes their puppets to appear in efforts to further their cupidity. It makes its billions on selling the munitions, caskets and then the cement and equipment to rebuild all they blew up. The radiation from their armour piercing ballistics is causing the epigenetic 'heartaches' for parents and babes. It is the best possible sales tool to inflate the profits of the military and medical hegemony of America— as the key to supplying all the machines, diagnostic equipment to outfit all the rebuilt or new hospitals. The sad part is, these behemoth corporations, like Bush's company Halliburton; pay fewer taxes than the people. That is why America can't afford to buy wheel chairs for its valiant vets, driven into war with substandard supplies like humvees missing armoured flooring. You can bet the consortiums got top dollar for inferior equipment and then even more for the ambulances and bandages. Why no start a war and have a perpetual income stream from repeat customers?

Colin K N A U F
Colin K4 years ago

What a smart idea....get rid of all the stock piled burden of Americn used radioactive material from nuclear power generation by using it as armour piercing missiles...and leave it there to pollute the people...let it do its damage...then come back and look like a hero fixing the problems created by epigenetic mutation.

Matt W.
Matt Willingham4 years ago

Thanks everyone for the feedback! Writing for such passionate change-makers as yourselves is both challenging and an honor. Blessings to you all.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P4 years ago

America should be helping, America fcked it up, and now it must fix it.

Catherine Bourassa
Kate B4 years ago

Good thing this organisation/foundation exists! I have a heart defect and learned the best moment for a heart or cardiovascular surgery is around the age of 3, so please continue the good work! From my heart to yours..

Susan T.
Susan T4 years ago

Everybody in the world is so used to accepting USA help. The Republicans are spouting about the Americans being on the dole. More tax dollars go to other countries and wars. When are people going to wake up. Wars are good for the economy! Old time Republican (you know the money makers) saying, but since we have no products to sell to the war effort, makes the old time saying passe. Wake up Republicans! The hardest working force is the American force! The biggest income for the US Government comes from the working class (that's why we are broke) ant much of a working class sine the bulk was laid off and outsourced. I, for one, am not going to vote for any of the "Government think" that we are Numero Uno and we must stop aiding other countries until we save our own working class.

AbdulAziz A.
AbdulAziz A4 years ago

God bless PLC and their members and volunteers trying to help the people whose lives have been destroyed by USA's world dominating forces and rulers. It is a great shame that Millions of people have been reduced from being very well off to beggars in the street. All the infrastructure has been wiped off. Once the 4th best health service in the world is completely decimated.

FOR WHAT?? the greed and power .. the oil is still squeezed out but stolen (take a look at the biggest oil robbery in history)

Arms sellers and manufacturers, Zionists, Supremists and Bigots have benefited. Everyone else lost including the US public, its forces and the country - they all poorer after this adventure.

What a shame the lessons are still not getting learnt and the cycle continues. The people keep on electing the failed rulers and paying through their pay packets or lives.

John Mansky
John Mansky4 years ago

Thank you for the article...