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In September 2012, ICARE teamed up with Preemptive Love Coalition to bring an international pediatric cardiac surgery team to Najaf, Iraq. Having known about his heart problem for many years, Zainʼs family came to the hospital hoping to finally find help for their son. An initial echo screening cleared Zain for surgery, and he was added to the list. After several days of waiting, Zainʼs parents brought him to the lobby area outside the operating room and allowed their son to be carried away from them and laid on the operating table. Many of these parents (including Zainʼs) are uneducated, and to allow their child to be carried back by strangers to receive an operation that they donʼt understand must take incredible courage. Then they waited. And this waiting might be the most difficult part of the whole process. There is some comfort in the certainty of a life saved, and even a life lost. But having nothing to do but wait and wonder without any clue as to what might be happening in your childʼs chest just 30 meters away—it must be agonizing. Zainʼs father pleaded with our staff to take photos of the operation and then to show them to him. He just wanted to see his son.

Minutes later, his eyes searched the camera screen for some clue, some hint of good news. “Is he alright? No problems?” he asked. After two hours (and several photo delivery runs later), Dad got his response: Zain was wheeled into the intensive care unit where he would spend several days recovering. His surgery was a success. Zain became one of the first children to be released up to the ward. His family was ecstatic, and they welcomed our team to their hospital room with hugs and celebratory sweets. Their boyʼs life was saved. Zain returned to the hospital a week later for his post-operative check-up, and the difference in his features was remarkable! His skin and lips were a natural pinkish hue, meaning his bloodʼs oxygen levels had become normal for the first time in his life. His parents reported that he was able to play football with other children—and sometimes even beat them! We all celebrated and watched as Zain climbed onto the table for his final echo screening. The cardiologist then declared him well. His heart had the best possible diagnosis: normal. And this would never have been possible without you! Zainʼs family would still be on their surgery search, looking for a cure for Zainʼs failing heart. You helped save Zainʼs life, and on behalf of his parents, grandparents, and other family members: Thank you!

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