Author’s note: Last week, our partners at For Hearts and Souls—the medical organization founded by Dr. Kirk Milhoan and his wife—came independently of PLC to screen children at the Fountain of Love center in Chamchamal, Iraq. The team graciously allowed me, as well as other members of PLC, to accompany them in their work, and I received my first glimpse into developmental pediatric cardiology in this country.
Last Tuesday, a family brought their 21-day-old son to Dr. Kirk’s medical team, fearful. A local doctor had told them earlier in the day that their baby’s heart was sick, but they didn’t know how to help him.
The mother, father, and aunt knew they didn’t have enough money to send him out of the country for surgery. They needed another option to save their baby.
The family found Dr. Kirk in Shoresh, in the middle of screening nearly 1,000 children in just five days. He and his team had recently arrived from the US to check the hearts of children like this tiny boy.
But then the doctors confirmed the news: their baby had a complex heart defect that would require surgery.
The family's options were limited, expensive, and only available abroad, until one of our staff heard the story and offered a more accessible location: a hospital inside Iraq associated with this year’s Remedy Fellowship program.
When we heard the news, we celebrated; this opportunity wouldn’t have been possible two years ago.
The next day, the baby and his family drove to receive help.
But then the phone call to our office came. Fifteen minutes after they had arrived at the hospital, the baby’s heart stopped. He passed away before he could receive medical care.
We—Dr. Kirk’s team, our team, local doctors, Fountain of Love, and our medical partners at the International Children’s Heart Foundation—did everything we could, but his little heart still stopped.
In the office that afternoon, processing how a family who had been given hope had just as quickly lost it, we were confronted with this reality:
Not every child’s story results in healing. Some end too quickly, too painfully. And when we see hurt, it can be difficult to press onward.
But even so, Dr. Kirk and his teams keep coming to Iraq.
Knowing they can’t save everyone, knowing that some stories don’t turn out the way we hope they would, they keep coming.
They practice disciplined love—committing to return to this place and these people in the hope that these kids might receive the best medical care possible, and that their stories might include healing.
Such faithfulness encourages us—and give us reason to be thankful—as Dr. Kirk and his teams continue to serve families across the country.