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.