The Day Shams Received A Remedy and The Day She Died


This week, little five year old Shams Hadi died during her 12 hour operation.

Shams was born with a combination of three congenital heart defects. By themselves, those three defects aren’t unusual among children here but none of the doctors or cardiologists had ever seen the combination of all three in one child.

In a developed country, Shams should have received surgery at three months.

Her five year wait had simply done too much damage to her heart and lungs and by the time she saw the doctors that could cure her, it was too late. The doctors were astonished she had lived this long. 

But this week there was one last chance to fight for her life. 

Before Remedy began, I thought about what I would write in this post. I came into these two weeks knowing that lives would be saved but also facing the sober reality that it might already be too late for some of the children we’ve met. 

Even though these surgeries are just in time for some and too late for others, every one of these children is having their story rewritten. 

Their stories all began with them being born in a country that didn’t have the doctors or hospitals that could save them from their disease. While there were remedies, they are all overseas and out of reach for all of them. Before now, these stories were ending with them still dying without any options. 

Now, stories are being rewritten so that children in the north and in the south are beginning to see the remedy for the first time.

For many, it came just in time. For a few, their story ends with them not alone but instead surrounded by an entire team of doctors and nurses who gave it everything they had to save their life. 

Shams’ story ended that way. 

It ended with her family being surrounded by a community who had grown to love them deeply.Bringing remedy to Iraq doesn’t mean we make heart disease a thing of the past. It means that every child born with heart disease has access to the care that they need to fight it. And that’s why, during days like today, we don’t lose hope. 

That’s why we honor Shams and her family by not giving up the hope that soon no Iraqi children will have to wait as long as she did to be treated. 

Thanks for standing alongside us, in the joy and in the pain. Thank you for continuing to rewrite the stories of children and families all across Iraq.