Iraqis in the western province of Anbar just crossed another heart defect off of their "incurable" list.
Our team stood by to support as Dr. Firas and his team corrected a defect that had never been fixed in this region of Iraq.
Little Aya, a 4-year-old with a sweet disposition, was born in Fallujah just a few years after the Iraq War's deadliest battles. Like so many children in her region, she had a heart defect and no hope for help.
But you've already heard that story several times over.
What you may not have heard is that many families in Fallujah have decided to avoid pregnancy because of how many children are now born with birth defects.
Living life with no children—this is no small decision in a progeny-focused culture like Iraq's. Children are a source of great pride, glory, and honor, and choosing to abstain from child-bearing is a big deal. Some parents I spoke with said they wouldn't take the risk of having a child unless they knew there were doctors who could provide treatment, and that's a part of the reason why we're here.
These surgical missions represent much more than a handful of lifesaving operations—though they're definitely that. These are about offering solutions and hope to families in need.
When mothers and fathers are too afraid to have children because of rampant birth defects and no available treatment, that's a problem that demands a remedy.
Thankfully, Aya's heart received a total correction thanks to Dr. Firas and the team, and there are many more still waiting. Hopefully she is the first of many!