In my previous post I confessed three ways we got our vision wrong in the early days and touched upon how we’ve seen our vision mature along the way. Here I want to actually tell you what our vision is today. It is not perfect, but neither is it final. We will continue to learn and allow ourselves to be shaped.
We envision a future in which all Iraqi children have access to the lifesaving heart surgeries they need within two hours of home.
There will still be an old backlog for a decade to come. And there are many obstacles to overcome that are beyond our immediate realm of influence (a nationwide dearth of anesthesiologists and nurses, for example).
It is our mission to eradicate the backlog, only now the ”why” behind the “what” is more nuanced and mature. The backlog will be eradicated by the hands of the doctors and the nurses we train. The country probably needs 10 heart centers performing 500-1,000 surgeries per year. We hope to be involved in saving lives and training locals in as many of those sites as possible so that every child with a heart defect has access to the lifesaving surgery they need within a two hour drive of their home.
Why so many centers? Why not settle for all children flying to Baghdad for the surgeries they need? Because the backlog is too great and the long-term forecast is too dim for one or two expert hospitals alone. The nation requires regional solutions. A single expert center in Baghdad will not suffice.
Today we have active programs in Nasiriyah and Najaf—sites that collectively serve a population roughly the size of Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Houston. Before the end of the year we hope to begin healing children in Fallujah, Basra and Dohuk as well.
And this is not just our vision. This vision developed in conjunction with Iraqi doctors, governors and health care directors from across the country. At present six additional cities across the country have requested the assistance of our Remedy Mission teams. And the Iraqi Ministry of Health is extremely invested financially in the success of this collective vision.
For all the questions that remain, we let this collective vision guide us: a future Iraq in which all children have access to the lifesaving heart surgeries they need within a two hour drive of their home.
We will need your help realizing this vision. It won’t be easy to establish heart centers within two hours of every population center in the country. But it will unmake violence and remake the worlds of thousands of Iraqis whom we love and live to serve.
If you have any questions or comments regarding the development of vision or anything I've said in this or in my previous post on vision, please email me at your convenience. I would love to hear from you.